Why We Held Our Tongues
To say I had an abortion is to join a blood coven,
be sister with the worst of our ilk. Sister with the one
who strapped hers in seatbelts, sent car skipping like rocks
dropped in a lake. Sister with the hand that pressed five children
to the liquid casket of a bath tub. This is to say I know how people
will clutch their grace until I bring them an amulet of sorrow.
How this hive expects all my cells turn regret;
“If not a baby, at least give us the surrogacy of your shame” .
To say this word abortion is to say I am shamed thing,
a womb turned urn. It is to say I killed,
died, am dead as I speak to you now. It is to say even my teeth
wish to flee my mouth, the leper of my gums.
I must be liar. Please be liar if I say I am not sad.
To say I am not sad is to say I am monster.
I am heartless as tile, as physician’s claw; is to say I am receptacle.
I am a food made rancid by its own hand. Can you smell my stink,
the rotting of me?
To say I called the clinic on a Tuesday night,
made an appointment for Wednesday morning,
is never to say I was 19. He was 19. Our teenage mothers
began dissolving our futures in crack pipes when we were 5.
Never, he washed the dishes of American Dreamers
till his hands calloused; never my wince at their touch.
Never that a Black girl’s tuition for a better life
is 14 hour work days, classes. Lest the glass slipper fairytale
of a strippers pole, an old man’s semen snatch her.
Never that I almost chose an old man’s semen.
To say, when the nurse handed me a photo, a marble of tissue growing,
I only asked if I would feel better when it was done, is never to say:
we would have just been another thing for you to hate.
A nigger baby, food stamp, tick, fat lazy breeder, dead beat prison number,
white trash trailer hitch, A RAPE, a black boy with a gun and no daddy,
a bitter exhausted nail holding up our own crucifixion,
a thing to pity, promote, donate to,
a poverty gutter to gather your own raining self esteem in.
To say, I cried for my best friend as I took down my panties
laid on the table, is to sever the stitch of shame,
let the milk of this choosing spill from me until I am fresh vessel,
is to unlatch my wrist bound in penance
to the unhelpful, the watchers with only burrs to give.
To say, the doctor’s face was a blur of soft cotton,
his voice a crisp steel speculum is to free the pigeon of truth
from its cage so it might return dove. To say,
in the recovery room I smelled twenty shades of crimson escape
fleeing down all the women’s thighs is to say, I am seer and historian,
conqueror and scared teenage girl 13 credits shy of statistic.
To say, I have never spent $350 dollars more wisely
is to hang my two degree’s in house whose shoulders
refuse to slump, to stare down the brick or back hand of this world
without reproach. In a land that has only desired to fuck or forget us.
That would sooner see us orphan than owners of our own flesh,
to say I did not chose to keep that which I know
would have been beautiful and brutal
is to say unashamedly,
I absolutely did choose life, mine.