From the womb a fetus looks and can see from the beginning of the world to its end, and when she emerges, God hits her under the nose and she forgets everything she saw.
—Adapted from Seder Y’tzirat Hav’lad
I remember my father driving to the hospital, my mother
yelling at him to slow down, afraid the police
would stop them, the nurses telling him to go home,
it would be a long time, and the nurses wheeling her
into the delivery room, her screams, the drugs,
my father back after only two hours,
and I remember the red roses he brought her,
her asking how much they cost, they had no money, and
my mother’s face, her green eyes, her blond hair as she held me,
her olive-skinned girl with a mess of black hair, wondering
if they gave her the wrong baby, and hearing my name,
“Janet,” after Oma Kirchheimer, and “Ruth,” after my father’s sister,
and the woman in the next bed telling my mother
the nurses asked if a Jew could share her room.