Rosellen Brown



                   They need a sign: No mothers in the body shop!


They need a sign: No mothers in the body shop!
I call out "Chip!" and my voice is a dropped wrench, loud
as I can make it. In the dead light, motes swirling, standing still,
caught in its oil, black rags, sour iron smell, the hissing and clanging,
through it all I can barely make out his features. And he turns away in a rage.
I call out to him again but he is so ashamed of my softness here—
as if they are his fault, my breasts, I know it. My hips
in worn blue cotton. My hair that fuzzes at my neck inviting breakage.
Broken already.
Everything in here is harder than I am, the tools' thick surfaces, the machines, chuffing,
that eat the bolts off tires, the dangle
of fan belts cluttered on the wall behind him, and nozzles like parts of his body
I mustn't see anymore—he is embarrassed for himself, so reduced. Not
for me, this is:
for himself and the others. For Jimmy
back in the office and Horace out front pumping gas, gabbing. For baby Fitz
who just last week married his pregnant sweetheart and she's already
guilty as I am, swelling up in secret, scaring the boy half to death. When I talk to my son
he hits a button and a silver car rises
and rises between us on a hard oiled stalk.
He keeps to the other side of it, poking
its underparts. He is the only man in the shop, of course,
who came out of such a delicate darkness as mine. The only one
who cried when they lifted him up from his bloody nest, lunging and gasping. As if
he was born cold as a wrench or a hammer, slicked shiny with motor grease.
As if I was ever
as fragile as he thinks I am today.

                                                                                   –from Cora Fry's Pillow Book


Rosellen Brown, Cora Fry's Pillow Book, Farrar, Staus & Giroux, 1994.