Self portrait as an elephant / by Christina Rosalie

The giving, the always tugging, scrambling, jungle gym antics that my body has grown accustomed to, since him. ‘Here honey, you can hand mama the toilet paper, but no you can’t flush while I’m going. No, stop. Okay, four flushes is really enough.’

Banal things I never knew to cherish have become ornately choreographed two person acts.

I think of elephants, while we brush our teeth. Our arms like trunks, entwined each morning: his little hand holding my brush, while I frantically wiggle his brush around trying to get all four quadrants of his mouth before he grows board of the process entirely.

Or waking to his fierce affection: an inquisitive finger up my nose, perhaps, or a wet series of kisses planted on a partially open eye. My body is no longer really my own, though I try to claim it. My padded cup bras have returned, now that I’ve stopped nursing.

“They’re really small now, huh?” DH may have commented last night, the way one might comment on zucchinis.

I stand in front of the full length mirror looking at the geography of stretch marks, muscle and soft flab that my body has become, and feel the familiar disaffection rise like bile.

Then I try to remember: tomorrow I’ll wake, and before I’m fully conscious, my body will lift and carry me through a thousand small movements. I’ll kiss my husband, carry my son to our bed, press his tousled head to my cheek, and fend of his clobbering embrace.

Tomorrow I’ll wake, and my body, without being asked, will consent to the daily task of lifting and carrying, like an elephant bowing to permit a human so small, to clamber up onto her back.

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