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Like moss creeping up the trunk of a tree or daylight fading into dusk, the transformation of my body into hers happened slowly. In the early hours of the morning, when the house was still and the birds were quiet, I watched her hands stroke my daughter’s cheek; puffy blue veins, wrinkled skin, and swollen fingers illuminated in the soft yellow glow of the nightlight. Known to me, I felt them combing through my hair, wiping away my tears, and lifting up my chin. Shaping themselves into a form familiar and strong, hers are the hands that now scrub my dishes, wipe noses, pray with my children, and have the power to scare away the monsters hidden beneath the bed.
Like bird nests popping up in once-empty trees or spider webs hanging from once clean corners, the transformation of my body into hers happened secretly. In the mirror, I study her sagging breasts, wide hips, and cushioned tummy, tracing the purple stretches with my eyes like I trace worm tracks in old logs with my finger. Under my cheek, I feel the pillow of her tummy cushioning the blow of schoolyard taunts and broken hearts. With her hands, I trace the laugh lines around my eyes. I lift breasts that fed my children and follow the curves of the hips that bore them. This body is lover, power, creator; a mother.
As the child enveloped in the womb grows, the woman of before vanishes too, within a cocoon of mounding flesh and raging hormones. Unbeknownst to her, the transition from woman to mother takes place in the early hours of the morning and late hours of the night. Love, worry, fear, and excitement alter her mind, body, and spirit, until she emerges with her child, exhausted and raw, as the vessel of strength that came before her. My body into my mother’s and her body into her mother’s, like a series of dominoes falling backward through time; our cycle continues and strength passes down through the women of history.
Emily Flanagan is a reader, writer, and lover of the natural world. She enjoys being outdoors as much as possible and draws most of her inspiration for writing from nature and her family. Emily is currently working on a novel and several children's books.