At Kahun, for the Health of the Mother and the Child
Your eyes are aching and you cannot see, and you have aches in your neck. You have discharges of the womb in your eyes. We shall fumigate you with incense and fresh oil. We shall fumigate your womb with it. We shall fumigate your eyes with goose leg fat.
Eat this, it is liver fresh from an ass.
Your womb has been wandering. What do you smell? Do you smell roasting? It is wrappings of the womb. We shall fumigate you with whatever you smell as roast.
Your teeth ache so much you cannot close your mouth. You have toothache of the womb. We shall fumigate you with a jar of incense in oil. We shall pour over you the fresh urine of the kine. If you ache from your navel to your buttocks, you have a worm.
Your calves ache. We shall apply strips of fine linen soaked in resin to your calves. If their smell remains sweet, it means you will be healthy. If their smell turns foul, we shall pour a cup of fresh oil between your legs.
You are thirsting and cannot be slaked. We shall say nothing.
You are aching in all your limbs and in the sockets of your eyes. You will know it is pains of the womb. You are bleeding and your head aches, and your mouth and the palms of your hands. We shall treat it by smearing you with dregs of sweet beer. If nothing emerges, we shall place dates in you, on the upper sides. You will sit. If nothing emerges, we shall cool boiled beer for you to drink. If blood or other fluids emerge, you will be unveiled.
You are burning, your eyes bleary. You will take cypress wood grated on the left side of your birth-brick. You will sprinkle it and sever it from yourself four consecutive mornings. We shall cause you to sit on the water of the lake. We shall determine if you will conceive or not. We shall take fresh oil and if the vessels of your insides are distended, we shall say it is the birth.
We shall have you sit on earth smeared with dregs of sweet beer. We shall place dates and other fruits within you. If any you eject, you will give birth. Every ejection which comes from your mouth will be a birth.
We shall pummel the top of your lip with our fingertips. If it does not hurt, you will never give birth.
You will go down to the place of the falcon, the place of the calf. We shall determine if you will conceive.
We shall place our fingers upon you.
When the waters come, you will be the same for ever.
Tetman Callis is a litigation paralegal in Chicago. Callis’ short fiction have been published in various magazines, including NOON, New York Tyrant, Litro, Gravel, alice blue review, Identity Theory, Wigleaf, Salt Hill, and White Whale Review. Also, Callis is the author of the memoir, High Street: Lawyers, Guns & Money in a Stoner’s New Mexico (Outpost19, 2012) and the children’s book Franny & Toby (Silky Oak Press, 2015).