Paul StJohn Mackintosh

Writing * Poetry * Dark Fiction * Weird * Fantastic * Horror * Fantasy * Science Fiction * Literature

Diana’s birth

Diana sings in her sleep. She’s a little enchantress. Just like her mother. We’re spending the first few precious days of her whole long life together, with each other. So many birthdays to come for my lovely little girl. Two days and two nights in the outside world, and already she has made my life so much larger.

She lies on her back in her cot, her little breaths lifting her blanket, small rippling and burbling sounds occasionally coming from her mouth as milky bubbles form and pop in passages so tiny, tuned to the clearest, sweetest, highest notes of the organ’s thinnest pipes. I would clean and wipe her constantly if I could, to keep the shit and pee and miconium from irritating her adorable pink skin, but I can’t disturb her and have to let her be.

Lilla lies in the bed beside her, catching up on sleep, head resting at the same angle as her newborn daughter, well-sucked nipples exposed to the air. The voices of staff and visitors outside in the corridor and in adjacent rooms don’t disturb them at all. My phone vibrates periodically with incoming SMSs of congratulation: it’s on silent mode and well away from mother and baby. When Diana makes a noise, it’s her inner life, the flowering of body and soul, like twin vines intertwining, that is the cause. Her hat slipped off her head, but she doesn’t mind and sleeps on. Lilla’s rest is more disturbed: Diana’s is tranquility itself.

Lilla’s right hand rests above her head beside the four-coloured toy ball she sewed for Diana, her fingers folded with the forefinger pointed skywards, in a mudra or the gesture of a saint. Her other hand, the one with the scar across its back, lies across her front, under her breasts.

Diana is already raising and turning her head, and sometimes she rolls it one side only to slip back into the same sleeping positing on her right cheek. Her mouth opens in a miniature yawn while her eyes stay shut. The whorls and coils of her left ear are as pink and delicately involuted as a conch washed up on the shore, a gift of the elements, jewel of the sea, with the rushing sound of the tides, their ebb and flow, always inside it. You hold a shell to your ear to hear the sea, and hear your own blood, the inner sea talking to the outer, whence it came.

So small, and yet her breath and every noise she makes fills the room at night, a presence that was never there before but now is everywhere, filling every space, leaving nothing empty. Tears come to my eyes as I look down at her, standing in slippers and bathrobe, Filofax and pen in hand, over her cot. The clear plastic bassinet gives a view of her from all sides as she lies in her swaddling wrap under her bright blue blanket, actually a soft towel. She yawns in her sleep, opens her mouth with a little coughing splutter, lifts and turns her head, arms twitching under the covers, then settles back with her head on the other side, tiny inhalations and exhalations whistling through her nose. The clock ticks peacefully, continuously. Under their lids, her eyes are moving.

I haven’t shaved since Friday, and the glittering golden stubble stands out millimeters from my cheeks in the bathroom mirror. Lilla didn’t have time to add my sponge bag to the luggage on the way out to the ambulance, so I’ve been without razors or clean underpants up until yesterday evening. Diana’s incredibly soft skin would be scratched if I nuzzled her now: I have to be careful just to kiss her with my lips.

There is already so much going on in there, a whole universe lying there waiting to be explored. She came in answer to my prayers and put all my fears to rest. Thank You.