Salvation Army Home and Hospital Birmingham March 24, 1940.
In the birthing room, my mother heaves and pushes and
shouts words that nice Southern girls don’t say—certainly
not on Easter—but Pauline Miller is so condemned to hell, so far
removed from nice, she curses God and man, especially the son-ofan-
Alabama-bitch who put her on that bed.
I like to think so anyway, that my mother doesn’t just close
her eyes from the shame of me, quietly biting her lip raw, and that
before I cause any more pain she grabs the ether mask and drifts
Surrounding my nineteen-year-old mother is a brigade of
women. Alongside the starched white nurses are Salvation Army
matrons who left their altar lilies and Easter dinners to scurry
down the hall to the birthing room.