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"October November" by Anna Fernandes

She’s out here again, head bowed, trying to scrape up our dead skin cells. Or maybe not skin, but hair or coughed-up fragments of lung. Pissing in the wind, she is! The wind that’s about to dishevel and disrobe us even further while her back is turned, while she stoops small over a rounded belly in our stretching shadows. We writhe ecstatically, rooted to rise tall. We are bemused as she comes back barefoot in dimming light to rearrange our crisp golden debris into pyres for a smaller version of herself to leap upon and sift themselves under. She breathes hard and cries to herself.

It was a field here, before. A field and a thicket. A copse. A wood. A grove. A coppice. There were small, furred heart thrums then, cosying in our nooks. Now the hum of a vibration purrs from yellow, biting, crashing machines. This buzz crackles through tendrils of mycelium and travels along each branch, through our sap, our tree senses. It bounces across the gaps we modestly leave for each other. It’s a stress memory, shuddering through our limbs on still nights when we are slacker and less watchful.

Looking up, rake in hand, she thinks she’s performing a rite for us, a vigil as we slip naked into a winter death. A laying out. She looks up again, wants us to see, wants us to know. But we are already budding, our tips tinged with tiny promise. We are ready to let go for now and rest into dampness, still watching over her amber orange squares of light.

A word from the author: In my writing I hope to explore the crushing expectations placed on mothers, the mythologising of pregnancy and also to explore the ambivalent sensations created by push-pull mothering in a patriarchal society.

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