The odor of betadine still lingers, though no woman

has mounted the stirrups for days, and the walls,

no longer sterile, vibrate with the knells of 18 rounds,


a chiming phone, the vestigial memory of a pulse. I remember

a ricochet of light and blare, mad ducking under gurneys

and desktops, the doctor slumped in the lab, steel tray of fetal


remains mingled with his own. There was a woman, which one?

who offered me someone else’s urine with her forlorn smile

and made-up name, her partner in the waiting room, armed.


Afterwards, we shuttled patients out the back door, bootied

and gowned, baby-blue. I heaved onto a discarded placard:

Smile! Your mom chose life. The sky over the parking lot whirred


with helicopters. Only some of us recognized the blood on the walls.

Bullhorns cleared the area of newsmongers and prophets

of doom, prescient Cassandras biding time, unhurried.