Jane was handing someone a bouquet of satay,
gushing about Muller’s Foreign Cinema and Laszlo,
when I told her about the abortion. A party

not the best place to breathe new disclosures, to say:
The baby would be three years old now.

I moved to a conversation about metal maps
and the cosmic center of Himalayan Buddhism,
but at home Jane wanted to know all about it, the belly

of black sky, the ghost baby that crashed her friend’s gala.
By then I could only speak in negatives, only walk through

what never happened. The leafy plants were red
and Jane’s blue gown was the color of flaming poppies
and I didn’t want to keep it. And I didn’t

arrive at the clinic with a teenage boy who said,
“We drove all this way. Stop crying; act like a woman.”

The closest clinic wasn’t 300 miles away.
I took the subway. I didn’t tell my husband. I didn’t take a pill.
I didn’t shit or vomit. My hand was sweaty

and the speculum was icy, but there wasn’t a tiny
poster of a tropical island pasted on the ceiling.

I don’t know how I came up with $700. The doctor didn’t whistle
“Without Love” or “Springtime for Hitler” while vacuuming
my uterus, but I still shudder whenever I hear show tunes.

The technician didn’t tell me how large the head was—
not a walnut, lemon, avocado, or ripened plum.

I didn’t have a boyfriend who wanted sex
afterward, even when I said “No, it still hurts.” Or
a husband waiting in the waiting room,

a husband asking, “Where do you want to go on vacation?”
Perhaps try the dry white wines of the Mediterranean coast?

When it was over, a nurse didn’t say,
“It was a shad a snake a sparrow and a boy’s closed eye.”
At dinner we didn’t say let’s have her and at breakfast: no.

More monster than murdered, safe in all silences.
Oh dear Jane do you want to know I was covered in blood?

Do you want to know about the tiny bright room?
The women who were afraid? The girls who smiled?


Photo by foilman

Tana Jean Welch
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