When I came again into the bedroom, I found Red Kate sitting up with her lamp lit and belly piling the sheets.
I worried you were dead, she said.
I sat beside her and put a hand to her belly, wherefrom issued a kick of a tiny foot, and I was filled even more with grace and glory.
If I died, I said, You’d know because the very ground would split and there’d be a sound of thunder.
You’re wild, she said.
The world will know when I pass out of it, I said. And the mark I leave will be great.
Red Kate pressed a finger to herself, where she thought was our child, and said, This is your mark. Nothing more. And don’t forget it.
The widow Cobb’s face was ashen when she drove me out of the house that night as the birth began. I didn’t want to leave, for the last I’d seen of Red Kate was her face twisted in pain before the widow blew the lamp out, saying that there must be darkness or she might go into a fever for the oppressiveness of light. This was the last day of April, and Reuben happened to be there, and he along with Samuel hauled me outside to the store, waking Ransom, and put a cup of gin in my hand. It was before midnight, and I’d been awakened to a wet bed and shuddering wife; and her hair, darkened and matted down with sweat, looked so much like streams of blood that I was terrified.
–from The Blood of Heaven (Grove)