poetr y Katie Bickham Nice, France, 1890 In the night, Josephine dreamed of saints and monsters. St. Gerardâs blessed kerchief settled on a dying motherâs belly as she labored, and lo, the baby came, the mother saved. But then they turned to dragons. The Devil swallowed St. Margaret whole until she burst from his belly, the holy birthed from evil. She woke to Grand-MÃ¨reâs cold and certain fingers on her ankle. âCome, Josephine. Lamps and water to the inner room. Arise. We are needed.â Secretly, Grand-MÃ¨re was called Faiseuse DâAnges, The Angel Maker, white witch who cast the pebble of a child into the sky. The girl on the table fisted crumpled francs, face splashed with firelight. Sheâd been before, raped by her father, had thrown herself from a terrace to crush the quickening, but only cracked her jaw, which jutted still to one side. Grand-MÃ¨re had let the air in then, swept baby away, then laid the ailing girl beside three others in her own bed to coax her color back. That was last year, before Grand-MÃ¨re offered Josephine an apron, taught her how to tend women, watch the basins to be sure theyâd got it all.
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Jul 19, 2017