Dinah is a midwife. She writes mostly prose poetry that might come together eventually as memoir about a short Jewish woman growing up in a particular corner of London during a certain time, coming of age and giving birth in Jerusalem, mothering and midwifing and growing older in Dallas Texas. Visit her blog at https://www.dallasmidwife.com/dinahs-days-and-nights.
We sit on tufts of sea thrift, my mother and I. Blueness above blows salt across our sea chapped faces. A flint church tower rises behind. The earth is alive underneath us, soil, beetles, a world. Moments of perfection.
Mum is without inhibition in her pleasure. As always, her feelings gush all over the place. She exclaims at a flower, naming it, marveling in its existence. She waxes poetic about beauty, nature, thankfulness – our luck that the universe landed us at that moment now.
My twelve-year-old self turns to her, mocking and rude. I tease her lavishness as only a cruel daughter can.
Now I whisper,
“Mum, I’m sorry,
Mum, I’m grateful.”
Mouths, teeth and lips too.
Raging at my sister, Jo, I shouted at her and bit her in the arm, drawing blood.
I used to enjoy eating meat. One of my favorites was hot tongue. I think my mother cooked it with dill. The dead cow’s tongue was sold at the butcher’s shop intact. Intact, it curled on the carving board in front of my father who served smooth slices of it. I remember liking its muscular texture. It had been vital to the cow’s mastication of succulent grass, vital to the depth of her beautiful mooo, and then we ate it, dipped in spicy mustard.
My cat Boom-Boom was a hunter. He brought in an almost decapitated sparrow to boast of his prowess. He had bitten the head off raggedly. The delicate feet curved in and down. The insides oozed a little onto the floor by the dining table.
I am Sylvia.
Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes fell in love through a bite. In the bite was their love.
I am Ted.
Ted wrote: “Woman’s vulva dropped over man’s neck and tightened.”
Perhaps he was strangled by Sylvia’s labia, swallowed into her through her vulva, they both choked.
I am Ida.
Ida B Wells’ bite was indignant and brave. It was 1884 Tennessee. Sixteen-year-old Ida was the only black riding in the Ladies car. The conductor told her that she would have to leave. “He tried to drag me out of the car but the moment he caught hold of my arm I fastened my teeth into the back of his hand.”
Mouths open and clench shut to bite but lips are stretchy soft.
I demonstrate a crowning by putting my fingers into the edges of my open mouth and stretching. When she gives birth her mouth and vulva are as wide as they will ever be, stretched softly.
I soften my jaw as I release its tension, a biter still but a body that knows giving, entropy too.