Last June / by Christina Rosalie

Eating a dry toasted round of pita bread and peppermint tea, I try to quell the queasiness I feel. This is now my life, this pregnancy, and I feel new, and vulnerable and strange. I haven't yet reached a point of feeling wellness. I find myself imagining the first cave people, in a world full of moisture. What was pregnancy like then? Suddenly, I look around and realize that everyone: the man I am in love with, my sisters, the guy who works at Cumberland farms with the bandage around his head, was a baby once: a fetus inside their mother's belly. I begin thinking about what pregnancy must have meant to all those women. Those first moments of realizing, the gradual shift towards becoming something other than yourself. A total body transformation, that creeps up gradually, like the morning sunlight moving across my shaded backyard.

This morning I saw four cardinals. Three were female, and a more delicate rust red than the cocky male. High among the leaves of the red maple outside my kitchen is a robin's nest. The birds change off sitting duties, and even in a storm, with the rain pelting down, a russet breasted bird with hollow bones can be found huddling over the small blue eggs, its feathered wings acting as a watershed.

I wonder what sudden urges will possess me as a mother. The mother bear, the raccoon, even the silly blue jays in my yard are driven into a tizzy when their young are threatened. The jays scream at the neighborhood cats when they walk too near a nest. They fling themselves from the safety of a branch towards the cat's face, and then swoop off at the last minute, scolding.

I wonder about my sudden elevated sense of smell. Last night I bought Special K cereal at the gas station, and at home, pouring it into the bowl, was overwhelmed by the scent of cigarettes, stale and old, still clinging to the box. Certain smells linger; and of course they are the worst: the fragrance of garbage, or of cat feces, or peanut butter. They cloy and clot in my stomach, causing muscles to tense up and heave. I think about my dog, who once, on a hot day at the park, pulled me to a hole in a hollow tree where rainwater had collected so that he could drink. I wonder what water must smell like, and what it must be like to smell water from a great distance off and to travel towards that scent, knowing it means survival. I think too about the great white shark, and its ability to smell a gallon of blood in a billion gallons of water. By comparison my heightened sense of smell, is hardly heightened at all, and seems to serve no purpose. Though recently I read about a study linking strong, smell based aversions to increased chances of survival in prehistoric women. Perhaps long ago this morning nausea served a purpose.

June 30, 2004