In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Autumn Equinox
  • Susan Scott Thompson (bio)

Fall has always been my favorite season - the crisp air a kind of awakening. This year is different, as I experience too vividly the autumn of my body. I shouldn't mind so much, this routine surgery for a woman my age. My daughter is twenty-nine, and my womb has long ago done its job, though I always thought I would have more children. Divorce interrupted that, and by the time I remarried, I felt I was too old. Now benign tumors are causing pain and infection, and in a few weeks I will part with my womb.

When the doctor tells me I will be recovering in the OB ward, I feel a twinge in my gut. As much as I love babies, I know I won't want to be around the radiant young mothers and their newborns in my newly barren state. I wonder if, without my womb, I will still get these gut feelings - if I will still love chocolate, or have a housecleaning frenzy once a month in which I delve into any and all dark corners, into the backs of drawers that have once again become unconscionable. A physician told a friend of mine that women have strong "gut feelings" because they develop in vitro differently from men - in boy babies, all brain cells ascend to the brain, but in female embryos, a few brain cells are left behind, somewhere in their center. Somehow, I want this to be true.

Though I read clearly my gut feeling about the OB ward, I am too embarrassed - a woman my age not wanting to be around babies - to talk to my doctor about recovering on another floor. Making room to separate the bearing from the losing may not be possible in this small hospital in a small town. And I am confused - in about a month I will be a grandmother, and I delight in this role. I have just finished sewing a cradle quilt for the baby my stepson Dieter and his wife Kristin are going to have. I don't understand [End Page 122] why this delight does not cancel out my grief over my own inability to bear. I should be, according to the literature, accepting my path as "crone," though when I talk with women friends, none of us likes the image - the beady eyes, pointy nose, drawn mouth, and warty chin, complete with whiskers.

In the weeks before my surgery, I cry whenever I think about the babies on the OB ward. My husband Ed sees how sad I am.

"Why don't you write about it?" he suggests. I write poems and stories, but I can't write about this. I am preoccupied with my visions - new mothers holding little pink mouths to their breasts, making this first connection - as when the nurse brought me my beautiful daughter Kim, her nose flattened from my pubic bone, her sprig of red hair, her blue eyes clear as a miracle. GIRL - BREAST - the sign read on her transparent plastic bassinet, to indicate her sex and method of feeding. Her father and I laughed at these start designations. Now in my mind's eye GIRL - BREAST takes me right to WOMAN - WOMB - a designation I am about to lose. I think if I have to see the new mothers and babies, I will die in that place from which my brain has not ascended. Still, I can't imagine telling any of this to my doctor, to anyone, really. The last thing I want to be is one of those middle-aged women with obviously dyed hair, garish makeup, and short skirts. I work on embracing my autumn.

A television looms over the waiting area blaring a sitcom as I wait for my pre-op appointment with the surgical nurse. Televisions seem to be in all the waiting rooms of this hospital, and I have a hard time believing this grating canned laughter is a comfort to anyone. The nurse sits down with me at a round table, and tells me the step-by-step of my hysterectomy, winding up with a strong recommendation for a...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 122-129
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.