05.17.2019
Weekly poem on Trump Presidency

 

CHELSEA DINGMAN

When The Right To Life Isn’t A Life

Forget the flowers. The fact that despair is all
I obey tonight. Forget assault, washed clean
by the moon, the debrided miles. Forget
the mess of carnations in the grocery store
aisles. Their wild cries. Forget I am alive
& the cluster of cells in my belly are new
enemies of mine. Forget that I’ve wanted
a child since I couldn’t carry one to term.
That a fetus can die by accident. By rhyme.
By way of an inhospitable uterus. Forget
the test I took at ten weeks to find out
if my baby would be born at all. Born alive. Born
without a life-threatening condition. Forget
the young doctor who said everything will be
alright. You have lots of time to decide.
Forget that
I lived in another country then. Forget
I love. I feel. That all can be forgiven. Forget
the names for children I hide inside a lockbox
under my tongue. Forget I can be prosecuted
in some states if I lose another fetus. Forget
the fool tides. Forget the alley I might die in,
another decade, another day. Forget this moment
exists not to save lives, but erase them. Forget
the bee populations, dying as they pollinate
the flowers you’ll cut down to bury another girl-
child. Another woman. Another lie. Forget
the body that was once mine. Forget legal
bullets that cut children down. Forget where
those children might be now. Forget who. Forget
the violence in our world. In a word. Forget that
women & children have obeyed the laws of men & nations
& states to find ourselves unsafe. Forget how
we’ve always been unsafe. Forget: at six weeks pregnant,
a woman may be symptomless. Forget the science.
Forget what the body can and cannot abide. Forget
that women are told that a fetus must survive,
but not how to survive this lie. Forget the way men fall
down inside a lie. Forget anger as unjustified.
Forget swearing off sex or pregnancy or pleasure.
Forget that a leader’s riflescope is largely unused.
Forget it is the soldier’s duty to peer through
that aperture & pull the trigger. Forget
who will die for this. Forget who will be forced
to live. Forget how. Forget the lye. Midnight
walks off a bridge. The coat hangers that will tear
new apertures in the wound. The wound
that may have a heart. The heart that may
beat. That may or may not be mine.

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Chelsea Dingman’s collection, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press, 2017). Her second book, Through a Small Ghost, won The Georgia Poetry Prize and is forthcoming in February 2020. Recent work can be found in The Southern Review, The New England Review, and Redivider, among others.

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