The life of my second child ends with abortion.
I swallowed my grief, absorbed it as my body absorbed
the unsuckled milk. Every fall I count a birthday. Every March
9th, I ask forgiveness.
I read of a temple in Japan, a temple dedicated
to aborted babies, a temple where mothers place a figurine in
memory of their unborn child, like a Catholic lights a candle
at the altar, to ensure the redemption of a loved one’s
soul. I want the same for my child.
In the center of a receiving blanket, I lay a loaf
of bread, coated with Vaseline, baby-scent Vaseline that I hope
will prevent the blanket from sticking. I fold the bottom corner
of the blanket up over the bread, smooth out the wrinkles, then
brush melted bee’s wax over the flannelette. As it cools,
the wax-laden fabric curls stiffly.
I lift the wrapped bread and turn it over, cradle
it face down in my left hand, smooth the blanket over its back.
Beneath the nap, my fingers read a different form. In slow, even
strokes, I coat the back with bee’s wax. When the wax cools
and grows hard, I pull the bread from the half- formed shape.
The Vaseline works. The bread slips out easily.
I return the hollow form to the table and fold
the left corner of the blanket across the top, keeping my hand
inside so the blanket doesn’t sag. I brush on bee’s
wax, watch the liquid penetrate the fabric, penetrate the pattern
of blue and pink rocking horses, making it transparent for just
a moment before the wax cools and stiffens, growing translucent,
then opaque, pale yellow and white.
Over the open end at the top of the form, an opening
meant for a face, I drape the final corner of the blanket. The
fabric curves down over my fingers. I hold my hand steady as molten
wax seeps through the loose weave onto my skin. Fold by fold,
I brush on melted beeswax. My fingers hold each curve until the
wax cools and solidifies.
Dizzy from the sweet honey smell of the bee’s
wax and the powder smell of baby-scent Vaseline, I apply layer
after layer of wax and pigment to build up the form and give it
White powdered pigment and golden bee’s wax create an ivory
The blanket swaddles emptiness.