I am reduced to tiny acts of motherhood: birthed her, held her, dressed her, burned her.
Named her. I named her.
I rubbed her name into my belly, whispered it to my bedroom ceiling: Baby. Hello baby. I think I know you. I think. I think. I think you might be Iris. Hello my love. Hello. Iris. Iris. Iris. Hello baby Iris.
I whisper it now and tap it out. She is letters next to each other, keys compressed in order.
I R I S
In Greek mythology, Iris was the rainbow. She brought water to the clouds and made the sky weep. She was a messenger goddess: tangible divine.
Iris makes your eyes pretty; soul’s window, shining iridescent. She’s purple and gold and upright in florists’ buckets, she’s blousy and overblown in an English country garden.
She’s a naked young woman running into the sea under a slate-grey sky, laughing, laughing as her friends huddle on the cold sand in woolly hats and wellies. She’s an old lady with paper skin and a soft, powdery scent, peering at a vast, textured canvas in the National Gallery. She’s a bookish child with thick glasses and dimples, reading in the warm spot of her mother's bedroom floor.
She’s my dead baby. But she’s more real to some people than my living children. Others forget her for a time. But soon they remember.
When I say her name.
How did you name your baby or babies?