A poem by Madhuri.
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…Physicians in prohibition states have already begun declining to treat women who are in the midst of miscarriages, for fear that the treatment could be classified as abortion…. One woman in Texas was told that she had to drive fifteen hours to New Mexico…
– The New Yorker, July 4, 2022
So you’re fifteen, and this looming young
asshole at the ice cream store
where you work
pushes you down in the back room
and rapes you.
And you’re shocked and shaking
and afraid to tell,
in case you get blamed. It’s a hot hot summer,
you’re scared to go to the cops,
‘cause who in their right mind
would talk to a cop? Especially in this heat,
and some are looking for trouble,
guns are jerking around in sashaying
You quit the job and don’t have another,
and your period doesn’t come.
You tell your Mama finally,
and she cries.
No chance of a termination,
not even with them new-fangled pills,
you’re in Texas,
so you sit around, mill around,
not knowing what to do
and feeling scared.
But after many weeks you get a twinge
in your lower belly,
your back aches,
and you sit on the toilet
with blood and clots
streaming out of you.
You’re still scared, but also glad,
because maybe you’ll have a life yet,
of your own –
But the blood doesn’t stop,
your mom drives you to the Emergency,
and when you finally get to see a doctor, he says,
“I can’t treat you,
maybe you took abortion pills,
and I’ll be liable. You gotta go
to another state
where it’s legal.”
“But I didn’t take no pills!” you say,
but he doesn’t listen,
you’re not specially the right color either –
getting’ there, but not quite.
Your mom is drivin’ hell for leather,
another twelve hours to go,
you’re lying in the back seat
with a towel folded up between your legs,
it’s drenched red,
and a fever is crawling up you now,
the AC is on but you’re parched and burning,
and dizzy and getting weaker.
“Honey, Honey, how ya doin’ back there?”
your mom asks, every few miles,
until finally you can’t
say anything back to her any more.
You’ve risen right up out of the roof
and your mom is howling,
car stopped by the road,
cops come and arrest her
because maybe she done gave you
So you’re a ghost,
a fair young puzzled ghost,
and you keep hanging around your mama
and helping her while she wails,
and you want to feel those arms
but you can’t quite feel.
And finally after a lot of hassle,
and them making sure she knows who’s boss,
the cops let her go,
telling her if any evidence turned up
she’d be liable for murder.
You make sure she’s gotten home and is in bed
and you give her a kiss goodbye for a while,
then you fly up again,
this time past the cacti and the rude
into the blue sky with the buzzards
and the hawks,
and you fly to the Governor’s mansion
all ensconced in lawns and shit
with a fountain playing hallelujah
in front of it.
And you find the Gov,
ain’t difficult, he’s in his recreation wing,
doin’ coke and getting his weasel swallered
by a grim curvaceous ho.
You buzz round his ear like a bat
‘cause you wanna make a protest –
but he’s too zonkered and busy
to hear you,
he just flicks you away
with his twitchy hand.
So you go all the way to Washington
to the Supremes
to make your case. It only takes a moment
to get there.
You’re flyin’ around in this big dim chamber
where all these closed-up, ossified
judge-dudes are sittin’ –
But the air is so thick with ghosts
that you can’t make yourself felt.
Whole place is packed with ‘em,
wall to wall,
and the Supremes have perfected the arts
of silent farting, and shutting everything out
that doesn’t suit ‘em;
whilst sitting there looking like inscrutable
Mona Lisas with hair in their ears.
So you and some of the other ghosts
confer, the ones with grievances
something like your own,
and you decide to go and haunt the dads.
So y’all spread out all over the country
just like that,
and it doesn’t matter whose shit-snake you’re hauntin’,
might be yours, might be the next girl’s,
just as long as it gets done.
So one festerin’ reptile falls off his power mower,
another ‘un shoots hisself in the ankle
while he’s cleaning his armoury,
another ‘un falls off a roof
when he hears a girl whisperin’ loudly in his ear,
I know what you done. I seen it. Yew gone pay.
Another starts up out of his sleep
snortin’ like a donkey
‘cause a what he seen inside his dream.
But ever’ one a them assholes
just ends up feelin’ sorry for hisself
whilst also plannin’ his next move
on some local young shy-ass tail.
So that don’t work either.
So the ghost-girls all get together again
and talk it out.
And one says, Why not we ask
the angels? We dead, must be some around
So that is what they did. Wasn’t hard –
just gotta say it and mean it,
Hey angels! You around?
And there they is!
So the angels (who was there all along,
just not makin’ a big production of it
and not interferin’ –
they likes to watch and see what-all we does)
gets into a confab with the ghost-girls,
and while it’s goin’ on
them ghost-girls getting’ happier and lighter
all bathed in pink glowy bliss-vapor
and other light too, that comes from
way out beyond this galaxy
and further still –
something mysterious and big as all git out –
that made ‘em relax and hum
and feel all levitated
And they decided on a plan.
So the very next night
they all went to the White House –
thousands of ‘em –
and they did a thing that ghosts can do –
though it takes a lot out of ‘em,
so they can’t do it very often
or for very long.
But with all of ‘em together –
They put on a show –
That White House was like a movie screen
and so people could see ‘em
they brought all their energy to it
and they danced and they sang –
First some good ol’ Sixties songs
This Little Light a Mine, and so on –
and then they started with some Aum,
and put in whale music,
and then some brand-new sounds
that the angels taught ‘em,
that made everybody who heard ‘em
stop in their tracks and pay attention.
It was a subversive music, an indescribable sound,
like gongs or maybe strings or
maybe voices or maybe
but much much bigger than any of these things –
that targeted your heart and your soul
and talked some sense into ‘em
so that you couldn’t just be a
petty, lying, power-tripping slime-bucket
You had to lie yourself down
and open yourself up
to the music of the spheres
and the lovin’ waves of the
creamin’ you like mushroom soup.
You hadn’t any choice in the matter –
you had to let the love-light in,
and fall on your knees and
tremble before the
scintillatin’ love-goddess of the whole damn
Lotsa the population of that capital city
came out onto the streets,
fell down from the impact of it all,
and started rockin’ and rollin’ on their backs
and then their shells split open,
and they sprang up and danced,
wild as anything,
bouncing like caterpillars on pogo-sticks
crysalizing and then
opening out into butterflies
all at once
with their naked souls showing –
And then a million of ‘em flew
in bright and strident tropical hues
all around the pallid edifice
like confetti around a birthday cake –
And then some flittered off to Mexico
to roost in a tree
and some went to Costa Rica
to frolic in festive jungle
and some sat on your Auntie’s rosebush
and beamed up happily at passersby.
But this concert
This short-lived, but long enough,
zappola to the hearts and brains of
(so that they forgot their stupid laws and knew
they would have to find better ones)
tired those ghost-girls out so much
they had to go to a real nice place
the angels sent ‘em to –
a sort of spa with every kind of water feature,
hot tubs, and also massages, facials,
body-wraps made of Northern Lights
that played upon your non-skin
like music and delight –
And they all had a good long rest
and could gossip to their hearts’ content
and tell each other all their stories –
Until they got some energy back
and could go visit their moms
and tell them that now they were purty
February ‘23, Luddendenfoot
Pregnancy is more than thirty times more dangerous than abortion. They will die of infections, of pre-eclampsia, of haemorrhage, as they are forced to submit their bodies to pregnancies they never wanted to carry, and it will not be hard for the anti-abortion movement to accept these deaths as a tragic, even noble, consequence of womanhood itself.
…If a miscarriage is not managed to safe completion, women risk… among other things… uterine perforation, organ failure, infection, infertility, and death.
– The New Yorker, July 4, 2022
Photo by Tabrez Syed on Unsplash
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