a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
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
H. B. No. 1500
a woman’s last
the degree of
has become a key
Texas has interests
in protecting the
life of an unborn
to make an informed choice
pregnant woman has determined,
In making a determination
consistent good faith
making a determination
The executive commissioner may adopt rules
abetting the termination of the life of the woman
subchapter does not recognize
woman on whom an abortion is performed
a woman who prevails in an action
the abortion is necessary
Consent to an abortion is voluntary and informed only
the pregnant woman
for victims of rape or incest
to perform the abortion
provides the pregnant with
to the pregnant
before the pregnant
she currently lives
in a manner that a pregnant
in a manner understandable to a layperson,
the pregnant to hear
manner understandable to a layperson
the woman in writing
before receiving a sonogram
her signature an election
I UNDERSTAND THE NATURE AND CONSEQUENCES OF AN
I UNDERSTAND THAT I HAVE THE OPTION
THE OPTION THE
I AM PREGNANT
I REASONABLY BELIEVE
IN SERIOUS BODILY INJURY
JUDICIAL BYPASS PROCEDURES
MAKING THIS ELECTION
FOR A WOMAN WHO LIVES
TEXAS HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE
I CERTIFY THAT I CURRENTLY LIVE
MORE FROM THE ABORTION
the pregnant woman is
the patient survived the abortion
based on the best judgement of the
presence of a fetal heartbeat
the issuance of a decision
overruling any prior ruling
restoring, expanding, or
for the relief
is held invalid
invalid, the invalidity
invalidity or potential
and continuing the remaining [I DEMAND]
do not have the effect of repealing or limiting any
abortion performed or induced
H. E. Riddleton is a neurodivergent, mentally ill poetess who, in addition to writing, searches for pretty things on the ground, learns more and more how everything is connected, and watches Star Trek with her partner. Her most recent publications can be found in Fairytale Review, The Dillydoun Review, Snapdragon: A Journal of Love and Healing, mutiny! literary magazine, and in forthcoming issues of Defunct Magazine and The Autoethnographer. She is a tutor and lab assistant at her local community college. She had an abortion in Texas in July 2021.