An image appears in art, over and over, of a human down a deep narrow well: trapped. What’s at the bottom? What’s at the top?
17 years ago, I had a prolonged labor with my first daughter, where, hours into it, I knew I was descending headfirst down a stone-lined chasm. In all that darkness, I saw only my outstretched hand, reaching down. At the bottom, I knew with a certainty, as clear as I have ever known anything, lay my death.
I never reached the end of that chasm that night. Instead, I met my daughter, born via emergency caesarian. When I saw her tiny, wrinkled body for the first time, held up for me in the surgeon’s bloodied gloves, her eyes were wide open, and I thought with a fierceness I have never relinquished, She’s mine.
These few lines are but a piece of her traverse into this earthly world, and my soulful journey to meeting her is as real as the glinting scalpel in the surgeon’s hand that released her from my body. So, as fiction writer, when I write of rock-lined tunnels or starless nights, I’m not fabricating stories from nothingness. The interior roads we take may be unseen to the eye but are just as vital, just as humming with mysterious life, as a newborn’s eyes.
…(my mother) was bearing down, and then breathing from the mask, and then bearing down, pressing me out into the world that was not enough for her without me in it, not the moon, the sun, Orion cartwheeling across the dark, not the earth, the sea--none of it was enough, for her, without me. –– Sharon Olds