If God is a woman, surely she knows fear.

creative nonfiction by Holly Salvatore

If God is a woman, surely she knows fear.

          Mocha was a yearling when I met her; we let the ram out to pasture. Butt scratches through the autumn, behind the ears in the snow. I tell her she’s a good sheep, pretty sheep, the best ruminant I’ve ever laid eyes on. She grows bigger, and I count down the days until spring. On May 1, I cry for a sheep. I learn “farm,” and “funeral,” are interchangeable words. I say them both over and over again.

          In labor most of the morning, Mocha lies in wet grass and alfalfa. Her lamb is halfway out, but she is too tired to push, bleating and lying still. We pull the lamb, wrapped in mocha’s intestine, torn uterus. She is too weak to lick her baby clean. The vet gives two shots, we collect milk, and bury her on the hill. Good wet ground for digging. A fresh snow melt. I name her lamb Sugar and watch her sleep beneath a heat lamp in the barn.

 

          My best friend tells me she is pregnant through a text. I am screaming from my pulpit of bone and wool. Screaming from the grave I have twice refilled and packed with soil after it was dug out by coyotes. I stamp my feet above a ribcage, above a skull I once scratched, above a scrap of still soft hair ready to be carded and spun. I think of Mocha, hollowed out beneath the earth.

          There was a time we never said die, when we thought falling in love was a look across a crowded room and kissing was a thrill reserved for second dates. There was a time I didn’t fuck every man I met and a time when you couldn’t stop talking about boys’ asses. I don’t know who we are now. If I have a uterus or a dude-erus. If I can be an aunt.

 

          I feed Sugar from a bottle, twice a day, then three times, until she grows a soft, round belly. She sits in my lap and I whisper her name. Oblong black ears, white nose, she looks nothing like her mother. The day she takes her first bite of hay and goes back for more, I sob. My daughter in a lamb’s body, leaves shit on my Carhartts, as she bounces off to play.

          I haven’t bled in 5 years and likely never will again. The last time in North Carolina, somewhere on the coast. An orange pair of shorts that I ruined with nothing but bodily fluids. A man, another man, another man who couldn’t love me. Pills, then shots, then copper. I lose most of me in the process. I am terrified of what might grow inside me, emerging live, 9 months after a lecherous smile. I never asked to live in this body.

          I never asked to be God.

22915.jpeg

Holly Salvatore

Holly Salvatore is a farmer in Boulder, CO. Their work has appeared in Words Dance, Lockjaw Magazine, After the Pause, Honey and Lime, Nightingale and Sparrow, Wellington Street Review, Kissing Dynamite, Barren Magazine, and The Fruit Tree. They tweet @Queen_Compost and are excellent at naming farm animals of all species. Find them outside.