I didn’t have to hold her the first time I held her. I’d been carrying her all these months and we had spent twenty-four hours dancing together, blindfolded, not knowing our partner. And here she was — my dance partner, held up in silence so I could see her sex. I don’t know what happened then. I was on my back, someone else’s legs in front of me in stirrups. My arm was stretched out on a thing, full of things. There were so many people there were so many lights and it was over. The baby. The baby. A real baby. This baby. The first time I held her it was on my chest. Skin-to-skin, skin-to-skin, skin-to-skin, the holy phrase of my antenatal classes. I felt like a magic healing stone — lay her on me and the fairies can’t get her, can’t come and steal her breath. I held her as a stone holds up. I was heavy and happy in my nakedness, like a stone. I was a joyful glacial stone in a flat landscape, left there a million years ago for this — sun-warmed.
By Ishbel McFarlane