‘In the Next Room’ (Catherine Givings)

CATHERINE GIVINGS: Do you want more children, Elizabeth? That is a tactless question, you don’t need to answer, forgive me, sometimes I say whatever is in my head.

I want more children and my husband desperately wants more children but I am afraid of another birth, aren’t you? When I have birth I remember so clearly, the moment her head was coming out of my body, I thought: why would any rational creature do this twice, knowing what I know now? And then she came out and clambered right on to my breast and tried to eat me, she was so hungry, so hungry it terrified me – her hunger. And I thought: is that the first emotion? Hunger? And not hunger for food but wanting to eat other people? Specifically one’s mother? And then I thought – isn’t it strange, isn’t it strange about Jesus? That is to say, about Jesus being a man? For it is women who are eaten – who turn their bodies into food – I have up my blood – there was so much blood – and I gave up my body – but I couldn’t feed her, could not turn my body into food, and she was so hungry. I suppose that makes me an inferior kind of woman and a very inferior kind of Jesus.

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