“one day commands the next to lie down, to scatter” – D. A. Powell, “cruel, cruel summer”
It was the last days of summer that were so hot and still the child did not come. What was she thinking, staying in the country to have the baby? Oh, when she took the train from the city in May and there had been that stretch of cool weather, she had been fooled, fooled into thinking it would be easier in the country. No diesel fumes or oppressive haze in the canyon streets between skyscrapers. But even here the deep heaviness of August heat had settled. Cruel cruel summer.
Her mother made black tea every day and she felt nauseated when she drank it with a dry biscuit and a slash of paper seaweed. From the seaweed the salt of the ocean coursed through her veins, chased by white flakes of the biscuits, making her abdomen contract. Still the child did not come.
Her mother told her black tea was for healing but she did not believe it. Yet she did not have the energy to refuse. Instead she took the black tea into her mouth and rolled it over her tongue, once twice thrice, before swallowing it. She sent the blackness of the tea directly to the child within. Willing it to leave her body. Willing it to be born.
Cruel cruel summer.