Synonyms for Extraction

By Sabrina Hicks

Merriam Webster: ancestry, birth, blood, bloodline, breeding, descent, family tree, genealogy, line, lineage, origin, parentage, pedigree, stock, strain

At ten, I pulled a baby calf from its mother’s womb, elbow deep in warm birthing fluids, feeling limbs and heat, matted fur and flesh, the beating pulse of a life with no desire to enter the world. Grab ‘em from the underside, Callie, and pull with everything you have, my mother instructed. Don’t worry about being gentle. Just get her out. After that, I always helped alongside my mother, trying to better understand her, a woman who above all else, relished all types of extractions: births, blemishes, thorns, a growing abscess from an ingrown hair infecting the tailbone of my older brother from riding too long on horseback. image1-7In the evening, she’d squeeze and pack Devon’s wound with ice secretly hoping it would fill again so she would have something to extract the next day. She’d scan our growing bodies, eye our blemishes, wait for calls from other farmers and ranchers needing her assistance in animal husbandry and difficult labors. Get Carol. She and her daughter can bring anything into this world. They’d say this, even knowing she’d lost a child, my twin in fact, in a water tank outside the corral. They say it doesn’t take much water for a child to drown. It only took a foot and a half for my twin sister, Meg. We were two-year-olds at the time. My father was in the barn fixing his saddle while my sister and I were taking fistfuls of hay to feed the horses. Maybe Meg tried to palm the water and give the animals a drink. Maybe I pushed her in. No one knew as my mother came down the road from town and saw me staring into the tank where my sister floated face down. In my dreams, I see her face, a moonlit cherub with golden hair, my mother extracting her limp body from the water with the same look she has when she is forcing something into this world and has forgotten how to breathe, as if remembering will kill her.  

Sabrina Hicks lives in Arizona. Her work has appeared in Pithead Chapel, Pidgeonholes, Synaesthesia, Barren Magazine, Third Point Press, and other publications. More of her work can be found at

Art by Lesley C. Weston (Graphite with Digital Finish)

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