A Forest of Mothers
Creative Nonfiction by Chelsea Muir
In a swimming pool in Managua, I floated on my back and looked up into the branches of a tree. My mother once told me that we love so much to look up into the trees because when we close our eyes the image prints in reverse: red branches hold us like our first view in the womb. I place my hands on my belly, a habit I picked up this week. I didn’t know how it was that I could feel so much care for this tiniest starlight, but I kept my hands resting there on the plane ride to New York, all the way to the clinic where a doctor would perform a certain kind of magic and return this light to the sky.
Months later, on a trail in far northern California, I look up, suddenly, as if someone called my name. And there they are—reaching across the canyon, embracing the river bank and climbing up to the mountain’s heights—a forest of mothers. The sun on my face tells me I have their forgiveness, but I never needed it in the first place. Then I continue walking, surer now, in the direction of longer days and a campsite by the river, under a tree that will hold me all through the night.
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