I have decided I do not want to have a baby.
Maybe I can appease my instincts and plant a garden
Instead. Don't we all have an urge to create?
Children carry through them their memories
Of you; I suppose I will plant and write.
There are many ways to escape mortality.

The most common, rampant deceit of mortality
Is the phenomenal event of having a baby,
Bloody and wailing for breast milk. Do words we write
Cry as loudly? Do azaleas and thyme in a garden
Recognize your voice, your hands, hold memories,
Allow you to whisper stories to their children they create?

Children use imagination, crayons, games to create.
Some of them, keep in mind, have no chance to trick mortality.
Those live on, heavy in the breasts, the memories
Of their families. That is why I cannot have a baby.
I am a coward full of compassion who will garden.
Words can fail; they cannot feel. I will write.

It is a labor of love, a numinous challenge, to write.
The offspring of images, events, ideas you create
Form a lush, intricate, vining, veiny garden
That lets you make believe you outwit mortality.
A writer has an enormous head, like a baby
Tearing through a vagina: both makers of original memories.

Our heads are full. Life is the maker of memories.
We want to record, to capture retreating moments, to write.
Mothers have written their stories of having a baby.
It is suffering, ecstasy, responsibility, fear to create,
To worry for all aspects of another’s life, mortality.
Together, mothers and children can plant a messy garden.

But I will cultivate an elegant, carefully planned garden.
Why not? We are all walking bundles of memories.
We must seize all opportunities to wonder at our mortality.
We are all damaged. Look at what we write,
Why we try to improve each generation, to create
A child who will walk unharmed, the perfect baby.

In our myths, our mortality began in a luxuriant garden.
Our maker's very first baby is hidden in our memories.
I wish I could write the unscathed into existence, to truly create.

by Amanda J. Bradley

Amanda J. Bradley recently completed a Ph.D. in English and American Literature at Washington University in St. Louis. She teaches Composition & Rhetoric and tutors in the Writing Center at Yeshiva University in Manhattan and lives in Brooklyn. She hopes to head for an MFA program in the fall.

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