My mother had given birth a few months
ago. I thought it
was odd, as she just turned sixty recently.
I had not seen
her pregnant. But there it was in the room,
all formed. A
baby boy. I didn’t know what his name
was, only that she told
me I could have him, if I wanted, she didn’t
really care. And
I told her I didn’t want him. And when I
did, she picked him
up, and as she did this, I noticed at the
back of his head, a third
grey eye. It had opened and blinked and
then closed. She took
him to another room down the hall and I
followed. Then, she
stumbled and fell, collapsed. I ran to her,
to pick her up. Her whole
face was gone, peeled back, and her eyes
weren’t even there. I
picked her up like she was my own child
and held her. I was sorry
I wasn’t there sooner. And all this time, I
did not think of that child.
The one with the third grey eye. I only
thought of her now,
who she had been to me then, and if she
would be that again.
Souvankham Thammavongsa is writer-in-residence at the University of Ottawa.