Poem by Ambica Gossain

December 15, 2023

We played God.

Turns out you can eat things,
a staple diet of lentils, rice and pickles.
Finished off with
a digestif (cherry-top) cocktail of supplements, 
meant to sway a cervix into submission.
And guarantee which swimmer
wins the race,
all to crown the “rightful” heir.

Giving birth. A son.
His crying. A wish-myself-deaf.
The surround sound of
my confidence as a mother
shattering all around me.
Up, all day and night, my limbs hanging
off a skeleton the shape of cradling his.
He is soothed by my touch
alone, making him my appendage.
Or had I melted into his?
Sustenance a job of more than feeding teats;
one of a mother having all the answers.
Relieve her child of his misery.
But how?

I’m out of my depth
and out of breath.
I can’t cure his pain.
Or admit my ineptitude
to deniers of the truth;
my son may not outgrow
his endless “fussing.”
Something was wrong
or maybe nothing was right,
I couldn’t tell the difference.
At his precious two years,
the pediatrician offered the
question mark of autism
to what seemed like the longest colic
that wouldn’t go away.
Screening placed him
in the “at risk” category,
a more definitive diagnosis
waiting on him turning four.
We clung tighter, our fates intertwined
at the mercy of early intervention.
My throat hoarse from
swallowing a guilt that crawled up
my esophageal tunnel, linking
my deeper, darker recesses
(gut to mouth)
over creation’s apple that had fallen a
little too far from my own tree.

God played us.

About Ambica Gossain

Ambica Gossain is a 42-year-old poet based in India. She is fortunate to be the two-time winner of the People’s Choice Award by A.B.Baird Publishing and is featured in their invitation anthology Like Frost on the Winter Garden.

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