by Karen Braucher

bullet Bio

I'm in Changsha Children's Center Number 1 holding only
the baby assigned to me. Although it's bright outside, in here
it's dim, heavy with heat and infants flat on their backs on bamboo.
For some reason, all the helpful Chinese women caretakers
are gone. There are at least forty babies sprawled in the half-light,
and most of them are crying. Perhaps one is hungry, another
thirsty, one burning in a soaked diaper, and I am here
holding only one of them. I look across the room and see another
ashen-faced American, a man, holding only his baby.
Our eyes lock like two refugees, two prisoners, and we shake
our heads slowly and do not speak. The miniature bodies around us
continue to cry, roll and writhe, crane their necks trying to get someone's
attention. No one picks them up. No one is going to pick them up
for minutes, hours, and we know you can forget all that crap
about helping others and all that fluff about loving one another,
because we are looking at the unwanted, the castoffs, no matter how
you try to paint it in some other light. The moment passes. We look at
each other again, veterans, and he says, "We've got to get
our babies out of here." And I think, yes, that's the way it is, you can't
save them all. Courage and ruthlessness rise like the south China heat.

"Brand" appears in Sending Messages Over Inconceivable Distances.


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The Redneck Review 2007