Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Nature, and Politics

Jenne’ Andrews: After A Friend’s Caesarean Section

Imagine what it is like even now

When they force a child from a woman

Who lies gaunt and shallow-breathed

Under ether, with forceps clamped

To the dolphin-slick temples

Of the infant still riding beneath her ribs —

.

Like pulling a calf or a foal with chains,

Drunken farmer staggering in the dust.

.

But whether ether or C-section,

Does not enduring nature’s long

Jacking open of the bone-portal

Yield up a welling forgiveness,

A burning love that sets in,

.

When she who curled within you

As she grew, corkscrews

Free of you,

Lying then in your arms,

Finding you with her eyes?

.

ii

.

Imagine being an old woman

Who kept having embryos swept from her

By the curette’s blade, or dissolved

In a chemical sea

Before there was any heartbeat

To hear via stethoscope–

Anything as definite and present

As a one- eyed fish with its white tail

Floating on ultrasound black—

.

How for years you told yourself you did

The right thing, used your Roe v Wade rights,

Its own kind of bravery, knew you had to choose

Between staying alive yourself

.

And its life, and shamefully, this:

That you were afraid

Of that stranger in your body,

How it might become

Someone like you.

.

iii

.

Since, years of lack. Mothering

By default, puppies, foals, goat kids,

Orphaned kittens. Three little girls

In the backseat whose au pair

You were– the delight of them,

Their high-pitched laughter–

.

The hell of them, your own

Missteps, raising your voice

When they fought

In a hair-pulling melee,

Rending your love.

.

iv

.

Look closely at these hands;

See their sprung knuckles—

Come into the room of shadows

Where the replicas of infancy lie:

Dolls of soft silicone-laced vinyl

Painted and cabled together and swaddled;

Little surrogates in bunting, glistening

Eyes, tiny hands, and how many

Of we the afflicted are there now,

Nurturing the inanimate,

Singing midnight lullabyes

To the dormant winter tangle

Where the ripened womb lay,

With her betrayal, her moontide blood.

.

v.

.

I often read my mother’s notes

About my birth, perhaps

To discern whether she loved me

Or was merely obeying A 50’s code

for women of her station—that she

Should be glad in her girl child,

Enthralled by her at all costs,

Mothering by Dr. Spock’s

Writs, drying up the milk;

.

For something would come forth

When she was drunk,

A cinema verite’ gone amok,

Wetly slurring that she was an artist,

A painter coaxing a sublimity of color

To canvas– never planning

To be mother and wife–

.

vi

.

If she were a stone

I could break her open

To demand the truth.

If my heart were stone,

I wouldn’t hear someone weep in the night

And my own voice calling back,

As if I had been strong enough all along

To bear a child.

.

vii

.

Imagine again, the video, the girl

You mothered a woman herself now,

Leaning back on hospital pillows,

Her blonde curls piled high,

Eyes closed, sparrow-wing lashes

Sweeping her cheeks–

.

Dark-haired infant

Tugging at her breast,

Then sleeping there sated,

Small head resting

At her mother’s throat-pulse–

.

What would you call

What you see there—

What you long for,

What you had cut out of you

So long ago,

.

What possible other name

For being changed forever

By what came from you,

The world itself asleep

In your arms,

But bliss.
—–

Copyright 2017 Jenne’ Andrews

.

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This entry was posted on June 7, 2017 by in Poetry, Social Justice and tagged , .
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