To R and the Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center


With seaweed inserted, cervix disclosed,

a changeling manifests. It is not

a secret anymore: the bits of placenta,


the not-yet formed wiggling

from skin inching into skin, unshielded.

I whisper to the breathless bloom


to welcome the curette. Another Brown

child dead on the news1. No preparation

for the violence of this world. How


am I supposed to protect what

emerges? My holiness

is made of holes: what is outside


‘drifts hollow, unreachable.

It falls through. Maybe holiness

does not always mean now.


That little glow baby of clay

and our resemblance grows

hair like curling jasmine vines,


the voice of a squeaking mouse,

the eyes of an elephant’s spirit migrating

from its transit toward the eternal.


I am transient, a whacked bug

still buzzing. Anxious attachment:

sticky side up, my feet wither into giving,


the want of a still place. You long

to be just right, decoded,

swatted if only to be swaddled. Substance


can be singular if you let it.

My leeching hands are not faultless.

Neither are yours, but fault


is wide, a cracked lacking. Nobody

was ready for the “it” to stumble

into being, adopt what they saw


as already damaged, what refused

to be nullified, what promised

a dysregulated mind. I cannot save


what I’m desperate to pluck. Lightning

flowers, maybe one day I could

pick my own: the sowed but unsought.


When I wake from the procedure,

I tell them: I am not scared anymore.

An elephant passed through me, vowed


to come back when we are ready.

What came out wasn’t a wound.

It was love set loose and maturing, a choice


with all futures open. I am

not the villain. In this version,

I get the boy, my body comes


back to me, and the doctor covid hugs

me and wishes me luck. I leave the clay

behind, sign my story in their little book.


When Roe falls, I will call them with gratitude

and ask how I can help. You, love, with mosquitos

drinking from your heart guide me,


drugged and guessing what form

really means. I don’t hide

the side effects of the procedure.


We are experienced pachyderms

now. We know how much we can carry,

that we is made of mes as Ali wrote.


Our unseen trunks intertwine in potential.

The clay child, unactual, plays

in a distant field. And we stomp on.


1 Adam Toledo: an unarmed 13-year-old Latino seventh grader in a special-education program, murdered by a white Chicago police officer, loved animals and reassuring his mother things will be better