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With a View to the Black Walnut Tree

ISSUE:  Summer 2022


My daughter throws up once or twice a day opening mouth then hands as if to pour out what was once clenched. Throws up pillows, backpacks, and refrigerators. Builds a version of our cat from pretend vomit, builds a version of our kitchen. I worry

I can’t soothe her fears. It is terrible 

to witness a body undo itself. 

Reading through a pamphlet when my mother entered hospice, I realized I knew as little about death as I once did about birth. Never heard the story of my own, my mother in twilight. When pregnant, I watched video after video my doula showed me: all pant and fluid and scream. 

Once in Dallas, I witnessed workmen knock down a wall of our house. With a view to the shivering leaves of our black walnut tree from my seat at the breakfast table, I could not believe how easily inside became out. 

It is terrible to wonder how a body undoes itself 

to guess what happened to my father after retching in an emergency room. Who came first to help him? What was the last thing he saw? My daughter is terrified of throwing up, panics whenever her stomach aches. What will never be taken from us? 

My father died on a hospital gurney with the please-resuscitate order still hanging on his refrigerator. How can I turn away 

from his death or my daughter? An order unread. A breath 

not taken. There is no consolation just my child’s empty hands that she pretends to fill with whatever she imagines roils within her.



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