Laura Dorwart – Surgery

23I can’t hold her yet, they tell me at the pediatric intensive care unit. But soon.
The surgeon shows me what they removed, scrolling through her iPhone like she’s recounting a recent lunch. Two swollen centimeters of atypical; a pebble of nothing-tissue that had grown inside her lung, inside her, inside me.
But she began the way we all did: Awash at sea, suspended in nothing, hung in a dark cobweb of void. I was warned that I would long for her return once she waded onto the shore and became a separate skin self. I do, and perhaps even more so (maybe because I’m selfish, but I like to think it’s because I’m a big picture person), I long for mine. Well, ours. I find myself drawn to immersion: Kaleidoscopes. Saunas. Soak tanks. Stars. Icy landscapes where the world sprawls before the eye. White space and black holes. Loss that leaves you blinking.
I watch her, tense but unmoving, holding her wriggling body lightly as she struggles against her IV lines and tries to bite into cords. They finally tell me I can cradle her, and I hold myself utterly still as she writhes, forcing myself to stay awake and conscious enough to love. The flesh is willing, but the will is weak. She struggles and I steel myself.
And this, I think, is mothering: this longing for stillness, even as you fear nothing more than the ceasing of movement.





Laura’s work has appeared or will soon appear in Lady/Liberty/Lit, The New York Times, Moonchild Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, SELF, Blanket Sea Magazine, The Eunoia Review, the Manifest-Station, Catapult, McSweeney’s, Riggwelter Press, New York Magazine, Upworthy, VICE, The Guardian, and others. She has an MFA from Antioch University and a Ph.D. from UCSD.


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