Before I gave birth, every newborn I smelled was lemon fresh, unknowing seeds cracked open by promise. Glorious lemon, I said, holding a friend’s baby in my arms. Nameless sun. Crisp as wind.
During birth, I lay in the odor of my terror, body emptying itself out, unfurled gut, acid vomit, & shit. My body, a translucent shell of transition. I kept asking my lover, is it mine? I smell it. Is it my smell? I know it is. I heaved & keened till they cut me open. How does a body live through it? How does a salamander lose its tail & grow back another? During birth, I died & was reborn an animal.
Afterwards, I was too splintered to sniff my daughter’s skin for comfort. When I did, my mouth was hidden behind a mask, my lips afflicted with herpes. My nose dug into the fine nook between her neck & shoulder. There, I inhaled it—the sour rind of her skin. Lime child. A new tail growing from my scar, crooked.
Geula Geurts is a Dutch-born poet and essayist. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Bar Ilan University. Her mini-chapbook ‘Like Any Good Daughter’ was published by Platypus Press (2016). Her chapbook ‘Where the Sea is Quenched of Thirst’ was a finalist in the 2018 Autumn House Chapbook Contest. Her work has been anthologized and has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Tinderbox Editions, Persephone’s Daughters, Counterclock, Jellyfish Review, Rogue Agent and The Boiler, among others. She works as a literary agent at the Deborah Harris Literary Agency. She lives with her husband, Hebrew poet Yonatan Berg, and their little daughter, in Katamon, Jerusalem.
Cover Photo by Ksayer1 (Flickr)