By Daniel John

Susan Aposhyan was eight months pregnant. The father had demanded an abortion. She had legally released him from all obligation. Her family was cold and distant. She had the Department of Social Services, that was all. And she had me. I’d seen all three of my children born. Susan’s Armenian black hair fell over her shoulders, and her brown eyes were full of weariness. She undressed awkwardly with her belly so large and got on top of the bed, then settled into the child position of yoga.

There was a too-tight fullness between her shoulder blades, at T2 and T3, and a great lack on the right side of her tail, cold and empty. I started to pull on her right hip.

“Mmm,” she said, so I knew I was doing the right thing. I moved my left hand down from between her shoulder blades and just laid it on her emptiness, next to her tail.

“There’s a dead baby here, Susan, in this emptiness. Your real baby is very much alive, don’t worry about him. This dead baby is an unloved self, that’s all.”

All the time I talked, my hands kept on working, pushing her right hip away from her sacrum, then pulling it back. I pressed down on her right sacroiliac joint point by point, sometimes leaning hard on a spot with my whole fist, sometimes just stroking down to it from her heart. I continued right down to her sit bone. She almost screamed with the pain, then broke into hysterical giggles. I’d hardly touched the left side of her body at all.

“That area’s such a mess,” she said, meaning the dead baby space.

“A mess?”

She laughed. “I mean it’s so fucked up.”

“It’s confused, but it’s not a mess.”

“I’m getting confused.”

“That’s a good sign.”

Hold…release…hold…release… She moved so she was mostly on her stomach with the big pillow under. I started bigger movements with her right thigh, compressing her hip joint and then applying traction, pulling her leg out toward me.

“OW! That hurts up here,” she said, pointing to her right low back.

“That’s what has to do the work when your right thigh doesn’t.”

I put a lot of weight on her ribs and hip, bringing them together when she exhaled, pulling them apart when she breathed in. Bound energy released, a lot of it.

“Do you know what the side position is in giving birth?”

“No, I haven’t thought about position yet.”

“It’s like this,” I said and held her right leg up to expand her perineum. “With my third child the nurse held my wife’s leg up like this while she lay partly on her side for twenty minutes straight.”

“It’s not symmetrical.”


“So I don’t like it.”

“But it’s relaxing.”

“It’s not supposed to be relaxing. I’m supposed to work hard so I have to be symmetrical.”

“You’re nuts. You work hard in labor, you’ll crack up. Your uterus does the hard work.”

“But symmetrical is better.”

“The way you’re resisting it, the opposite is true.” I climbed over her onto the bed and pulled on her right thigh while I pushed hard on her sacrum. Something changed.

“Do you want to keep going?” It had been one hour. For an ordinary person it would have been plenty, what I’d already done.

“I’m fine,” she replied dreamily. “Could you stroke my sacrum some more?”

Within minutes I was creating a magnet for love to come down from her heart and fill up the dead baby space on the right side of her tail. I let my mind wander to free my hands of oversight. After ten solid minutes, an enormous length of time for any one touch on a body, I stopped and put my hands under her right thigh, my right fingers in her groin, touching her pubic hair, and my left fingers alongside her vagina. I slowly moved them back and forth. Fear entered the room.

“Something scary is about to happen,” I announced.


She didn’t say stop, so I kept on. I moved closer to her vagina with both hands, found the spots with the greatest energy, and slowed down my rhythmic back-and-forth movement to a crawl.

“My hip just moved,” she reported.

Five minutes later she said, “My tail just moved to the right.”

Suddenly the desire pouring off her was so intense I could barely stay awake.

“I feel like I’m nursing your dead baby,” I told her. The release of desire was its breast milk. I used my erection as a guide. When I was erect I was drawing off plugged, unreleased sexual energy. When my erection faded it meant I should move my hands to another spot, one that got me hard. Sleepiness overwhelmed me. Head hanging, eyes shut, guided by a rising, falling erection, I moved my fingers with a sexual intent, finding the sexy places and then gently squeezing the feeling out. The dead baby started to come alive.

I began to collapse. I had to lie down. I crumpled toward her feet. I tucked her right foot in my armpit. I had a clear view of her genitals. I carefully put my right thumb on her perineum and pushed it in about an inch, resting the palm of my hand over her anus. With my left hand I held her pubic bone and oh…so…slowly pushed my two hands toward each other.

This is such delicate work down here. It needs such a large amount of deep, honest


Energy flooded into my hands, like silver shooting electricity. Something breathtakingly

significant was occurring beneath my fingers.

Vaginas are large. They go almost all the way to the anus. Hers protruded in the fleshy abundance of pregnancy. I gently pushed my hands together, slid my left hand a tiny ways over her pubic bone, getting closer and closer to her clitoris. I could see its little sheath. I was so exhausted, right on the edge of sleep. There was a sense of a great movement, coming to a close. I made my hands memorize their position, and then I deliberately…fell…asleep. A second hour had passed.

I was sleeping in silver. The energy from her perineum and vagina was like a river of liquid mercury that I slept inside of. I woke up and moved my left hand so my fingers were on her clitoris. My right thumb was still on her perineum. Electric energy zapped and twanged my fingers like sails in a solar wind. I fell asleep again, not deep. A great yawning opened up beneath me of intense weariness. I could not fall into it because the energy was too high for deep sleep. I awoke minutes later, very cold, and crawled up next to her and stroked her long, black hair.

“I have a right side!” she said ecstatically, stretching. “I’ve never had one before. Or at least the one I had was all shitty, a real mess. But now I have two sides and they’re both good!” She stood up and walked around. “It’s incredible having two sides.”

I watched a stunningly beautiful naked eight-months-pregnant woman stride around the room like the perfection of a myth.

“Look at your face, Susan! It’s all happy!”

She walked to the mirror and laughed. “I have a right eye too. I feel invincible!” She walked over to the bed and loomed over me with her great breasts and belly, then said, “That massage was simply brilliant. You should get letters after your name.”

“Like QRSTX?”

She laughed. “No, really, Daniel, that was one of the greatest massages of all time.”

Daniel John is a poet, writer, actor, and playwright.. His poems, stories, and essays have appeared in Diverse Voices Quarterly, Apalachee Review, and The Amherst Review, among many others. His plays and monologues have been produced by the University of Alabama at Troy and by TYG Productions at the Boston Playwrights Theater at Boston University.