A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
In our time, neighbors posted names
and addresses of abortion nurses, doctors; names
of doctors’ kids, their schools. One website
ran red with animated blood.
Doctors died: Gunn, Britton, Slepian,
Tiller. Staff died. And volunteers.
Politicians said Planned Parenthood
as if it were code for something bad about
my gender, extending from abortion to sex.
Their goal? I read obliteration, an erasure
of women, of my younger self, patient at Planned
Parenthood who went for contraception,
cancer tests. Do you still have these needs?
I bent my legs, and propped my feet against
what nurses called stirrups, cold and severe.
And later, when I worked as a clinic counselor,
I ministered. Vital signs to read.
Contraceptive means to show and tell.
All morning at Planned Parenthood I’d help
patients up on the table, their paper gowns
like long, stiff bibs. And down again.
At first, demonstrators outside clinics
only screamed. Today, they take lives:
Ke’arre Stewart, a vet who’d stepped out
of a Colorado clinic in search of a better
signal, whose girlfriend had happily learned
that she was pregnant. My younger self, unable
to afford a private doctor, would also have been
inside—in an examining room, maybe—her life
open ahead, her belly flat, warm
as a plum ripening in sun, the sun
you also know, as you must know the sweet
scents of warmed fruit, women’s bodies.
I hope that nothing remains for you of threats,
that you know at most only vague stories:
maybe about Stewart, 29,
and a note he posted shortly before he died:
Why must the most beautiful thing
be so confusing? I’m talking about love.
Copyright 2018 Sandy Solomon