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The moment had come, as moments like these often did, when he had considered himself the safest from it, sitting as he was at the kitchen table (well, under the kitchen table, really, since it was a lot easier to develop his kundalini in a womblike space and the Spanish tile didn’t feel very womblike) in the dozing, half-shuttered light of the Malibu afternoon. Camila had just padded into the kitchen, bleary-eyed and smiling from a nap. He felt very centered. She was looking at a coconut. Things were perfect. Then:

“I heard from my mother’s placental shaman last night,” she announced, and his heart tightened. Not in the usual way it tightened after spending four hours inverted under the kitchen table. A bad way. “She wants to know what we were thinking of doing with the afterbirth this time so the elders can prepare an appropriate blessing. I know we buried the last one, so I told her we’d talk it over and let her know by the weekend.”

“Oh,” Matthew managed to say. If his breathing had increased above the usual Tantric rate of once a minute, Camila hadn’t noticed.

“I know it feels like everyone is doing commemorative jewelry right now,” she continued, “and I really honor their experience in doing that, but I’m just not sure that I want to contribute to this idea that we need to cover our bodies. There’s already enough metal in our lives, you know?”

“Right,” Matthew said.

“So I was thinking that maybe this time we could make a poultice or a smoothie or something. A ceremonial ointment, maybe. Or it doesn’t have to be ceremonial, even. Just a regular ointment. I don’t know. What were you thinking?”

“Oh,” Matthew said in what he hoped was a light and airy tone, “I was thinking of maybe not doing anything with the placenta this time.”

Camila looked at him. “Not doing anything?”

“Well,” Matthew amended hastily, inwardly cursing himself for raising the issue so clumsily. “Not nothing, exactly. It just seems like we’ve done so much with the last two that maybe this time we could just sort of let things work themselves out. Without making anything out of it, I mean.”

“So no reducing the placenta down to freeze-dried essence and creating a unique oil-based musk for our future child to anchor his or her eventual celebrity fragrance line on?”

Matthew shook his head.

“No placenta jerky? No placenta sandwiches?”


“No placental birthing mask?”

“I -”

“No placenta tree, bearing forth dripping meat-leaves year after abundant year?”

“We already have a placenta tree,” Matthew countered, smiling. Camila stared back at him.

“If that’s supposed to be funny -”

“No, no.”

“Because it wasn’t.”

“Of course not.”

“It doesn’t work like that with placental trees. You don’t just have one that sort of counts for everybody.”


“You can’t give one child his own placenta tree, fragrant with the nutrients that cradled his nascent body, and then not give one to the next.”

“No, I guess you can’t.”

Camila smiled. “You’re wild, Matt. You really had me for a minute there. I’m going to go look at some cucumber slices, calm down after taking that riotous, fanciful journey together. Okay?”

“Okay,” he said, feeling the sound echo against the underside of the table. “You know, most people just throw it away,” he said to himself.

“Did you say something?” Camila called from the fruit-slicing anteroom.

“Nothing,” Matthew said. “Nothing.”

[Image via Wenn]