by Kay Bell


                                                My mother’s favorite story, a dull one of course— is
                                                that she did not scream during birth…
                                                                                            -Hieh Minh Nguyen


Once I found out
my mother nearly drowned herself
while pregnant with me,
I understood my depression

There’s something about the guilt of being born
when the day will not have you
that shoves you towards the center of silence
until you cannot scream or reach

They say if the mother hates the baby
as it grows inside the belly–
it’s a girl

They say if the girl hates the mother
as it grows inside the belly–
it’s diabolical

and because I was a quiet child
my mother often could not find me,
I would close my eyes and hide
in the corners of my room

when my mother peaked into the tiny
spaces she would ask:

             what are you doing? 

and I would ball myself up tighter
and almost in a whisper, I’d answer:

              I am trying to drown