Content warning: miscarriage, rape, child abuse, forced birth. Please take care of yourself: if reading about any of those things would cause you harm, skip this poem.
Thirteen years ago I went to sleep pregnant and woke with thick clots sticky on my thighs. Swamped with blood and despair, I pleaded please God please don't let this be a miscarriage, but my prayer was null. That pregnancy was already over. At least my body expelled the tissue without incident. I didn't go septic. And back then if I'd needed a doctor, I could have entered any public hospital, even in a red state. If it happened today I could be like the woman sent home from the hospital to wait for infection to set in. Or the one sent home to fill a bathtub with blood because the D&C she needs is now against the law. She says they'll stop trying to conceive: in the state where she lives, it's no longer safe. Grief and rage rise in me like a hurricane, like a tsunami, like the flood of blood I couldn't stop.
2. As if
the agony of our bodies betraying us
we might have to beg the pharmacist for drugs
they still might say "I can't help you"
For the one who knows a second bout with postpartum depression will be fatal.
For the one with preexisting conditions for whom pregnancy means death.
For the one forced to carry a dead fetus to term and labor to birth it.
For the one who just doesn't want to get pregnant.
Which is worse: being jailed for miscarriage
or forced into giving birth?
Had you considered that question before this year?
Did you previously understand
the Supreme Court could strip away bodily autonomy
as though it were a dress we no longer get to wear?
If your answer is no: are you white, affluent, cisgender,
straight, and/or temporarily able-bodied?
Do you think those adjectives will protect you now?
I don't live in a forced-birth state, though the GOP is already talking about banning abortion nationwide if they gain control of the Senate in November.
For now I'm thankful that I retain autonomy over my own body, and I grieve and rage for everyone for whom that is no longer true (and/or was never functionally true -- I'm aware that for many, the promise of "choice" was meaningless without access and resources.)
My practice is to grieve and rage (and write furious poems) when I need to, and then find something I can do to help people who have it worse than I do. If you have a few dollars to spare, donate to the NCJW Jewish Fund for Abortion Access. It doesn't fix what's broken, but it will help.