The Side Show of Birth

Amy Barnes

              I give birth to the longest baby ever on the longest day of the year. 144 inches. A gross of a baby. A gross baby. Six hundred people pay a nickel to feel my still-distended belly and listen to me grunt and strain so they can take a closer look at this longest of babies after the longest of labors.

              Before he arrived, he folded up in my belly like a dashboard map. When he is born, the maps of my insides are imprinted on his skin, veins borders that go nowhere. I know I’ll always know where to find him by looking on my belly.

              The doctor holds him by his feet. My son cries as his face drags the ground, unfolds to the dirt floor like an accordion. The crowd cheers. They shout Encore even though they know no more babies fit inside my insides.

              He’s wrapped in a horse blanket and continues crying until I pick him up, a long wet noodle stretching from tent end-to-end. The calliope plays louder. It’s my lover’s love song to us. He played the circus’ music as I gave birth, a lullabye to his son.

              The ringmaster arrives after the big event and pushes me back out to the main stage. I grip my son as I climb the longest of ladders to the longest of tightropes. I put one foot on the rope and balance my newborn child across my chest.

              The crowd cheers us on from below.