I was in the kitchen when the angel came to me, holding my face in the vapours of the soup on the stove. It was raining and I was wearing very thick socks. The soup was too salty.

The angel was beautiful and terrible the way queens and widows and wounded soldiers are beautiful and terrible. She told me I was going to have a baby and then she said let me show you something. Let me show you everything.

Everything starts and everything ends with the blood. The moon calls the blood and the blood calls the men, they can smell it on you. This is innocence, said the angel. This is it, the white white veil for which kingdoms collide and fall, and it starts here.

I watched a baby being born once. The woman’s body was a shipwreck, stretched as if by pleasure, back arched, thighs spread. Her womanhood was obliterated by the centre of the earth, a momentous smallness, a visceral embrace more intimate than fucking. Time hangs suspended on these emergences, on these openings of women into the great dirty world.

Men weren’t allowed in the birthing rooms of old. The primitive ritual frightened them, robbed them of power, rendered their hands useless as our bodies spoke a law unto themselves and remembered. We all pass into being this way, with blood and shit and cleaving pain, but men forget, their dicks like divining rods witching our wells.

And then the cry, thin and high and frightened. You’ve been severed, little one, we say, but my arms are here to hold you, my breast your pasture.

The angel said this innocence is everything and it never goes away. We are all filthy but inside us all is the blood and it calls to us. She told me I was having a baby but not now, not today.

I felt something in the core of me tear and then the heavy wetness between my thighs.

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