The Maynard
Spring 2016

Adrienne Gruber

Mr. Rowbotham

Mr. Rowbotham had read that an embryo is mostly fluid, a gelatinous pulp. One might crave cassowary anus and swamp eel to turn the birth canal a slippery mess. Stick to a diet of roasted apples, lemon juice, rice boiled in milk, he suggests, for this gristled child that gradually hardens a skeletal core would simply fall out. Flop carcass and legs like the bodies of fish, jump at the site of you, latch, bones hardening from your milk. Perhaps this is getting off easy. And so he had this thought: I have never cared before about getting off easy. He is happiest when he sidesteps battles with friends, stuffs jealousy into the black blowhole of the gut, pretends to love every raging opinion about politics and art. He suspends epoch momentum with his radical ideas, ambient breath cloaking desperate mothers. It is ideal to speed things up, but how can we want for this? If the fetus slowly consolidates in firmness then the worst is yet to come. St. Paul’s is just up the street. It stands like a castle or a post-apocalyptic erection. The buzz and flicker of fluorescent lights are strobe pictures in our wombs. Windows blink their eyes and in wonderment we think, who is still up at this hour? Who cackles over a limp carcass with Frankensteinian vision? There, drawing its bony particles from its mother’s blood, is a seedling, about to take over the world. Mr. Rowbotham is curious; what if you changed the mother’s blood composition by restricting her diet of foods believed to harden bones? It was simply a question of diet. Less milk and spinach. More scurvy. If the baby wasn’t bony, he reasoned, the fetus could slip through the birth canal without causing pain. Brilliant, sir. Such ingenuity. Imagine soft cheeses that slip between vaginal folds. An ethereal bulb floats out and bubbles to the surface. Meditate on the soft spot until it becomes the entire head.