This is a still from a new film I'm working on. Its themes include (but are not limited to) babies, trees, electricity, and shapes.
Now, when a baby is born, it comes complete with a long, ropey umbilicus attached to a placenta. That placenta is a piece of work too, boy. Part sieve, part industrial power complex, it's where the fetus gets all its mojo for those nine glorious months. Despite what your doctor might tell you, when the baby is born, it is a good thing to let that placenta stay attached for a while. It has important last-minute work to do. When it's done uploading that final megablast of nutrition and life force, it's fine to cut that bad boy loose and tie a knot in the cord.
I didn't know this stuff before I had a kid. I did, however, know that it was customary for certain hippie individuals to fry and eat the placenta afterwards. "We ate the placenta with garlic and onions," one such mom casually told me. For the record, the missus and I did not eat our daughter's placenta. No way, no day.
We did, however, freeze it. "We can deal with this thing later on," I remember saying, wedging the plastic bag containing the placenta into our Frigidaire. Seven months later - this Sunday - I rediscovered that little bundle of love when I was - you guessed it - trying to make room for beer. In bold, black letters, the word PLACENTA was written right on it in permanent ink. "Check it out. It's Eleanor's placenta," I said, holding the bag up for Janelle. "We really need to deal with that," she replied, scrunching up her nose. But I was already distracted and moving on to the next domestic task.
The next morning, while making coffee, Janelle re-re-discovered the placenta on top of the fridge - where I had stashed it in my attempts to make room for beer. "Did this stay out all night?" She placed her hand on the bag, which felt warm to the touch.
Our dog, Stella, was now sharking around the kitchen like a great white in shallow water. (She had actually tried to eat the placenta the night Eleanor was born and, apparently, hadn't lost any interest in it.) "What should we do with it now?" I asked the missus, since, after all, it came out of her body and not mine. "I vote we either bury it or burn it in a reverent yet non-ritualistic manner."
I built a big fire and kept adding cedar and oak logs until I worked up a nice thick bed of hot coals. Just before adding the placenta, I gave Eleanor a chance to say goodbye to her old running buddy. "Peace out," she seemed to want to say to it, "Catch you on the flipside." I tipped my bottle of beer. Janelle said "adios." And smoke filled the air.