Cathy Ulrich

The Light Without

          The stone baby is something your body doesn’t want to let go of, something your body envelops, something it nestles. The stone baby is a hidden thing, something tucked inside of you so well doctors have told you isn’t there. You eat soft things in spoonfuls to fit into the nooks and crannies of your body: soups, melted cheeses, butter. Your husband looks at you slant when you ask him pass the strawberry jam

          He says it feels like there are three of us.

          You say does it? and wipe a crooked crumb from your lap.

          Sometimes you knuckle the familiar pain in your side, just to feel a giving away under the soft bones of your fist.

         Your husband leaves you for a woman whose womb will deliver him pliant, soft children. There will be three of them, with your husband’s eyes, his new wife’s high, thin forehead. They will play Frisbee, watch predictable films, eat hot dogs with too much ketchup.

         When your husband leaves, he doesn’t look back. You had hoped he would, just once. You watch him from the window as he goes, your hand cupped against your side, stone baby nestled within.

         After you die, they will find the stone baby nestled within your organs. After you die, they will tug it out of your gaping body. It will feel like nothing in their hands.

Cathy Ulrich used to play Frisbee in the front yard with her daughter. It only got stuck on the roof a few times. Her work has been published in various journals, including Ecotone, Juked and Okay Donkey.

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