Image: “Biophilia” by Mek Yambao, oil and ink on wood, 2014
October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
This month marks the 20th anniversary of my abortion as well as it being a little over a year since my miscarriage. This month and year also marks my 40th birthday. It’s a pretty heavy month. I don’t feel completely comfortable and confident publicly sharing truths about my pregnancy losses as I expect to encounter judgment and ruthless criticism, but I live these truths daily, carry them every waking moment, and I must say, life is okay, life is actually pretty lovely and not some grim hopeless journey.
For this post, I’m going to set aside my fear and anxiety about sharing my personal experience with pregnancy loss and pretend we live in a perfect world where women are not shamed for their decisions regarding their health, safety, well-being, and future plans. The following poem was born on the heels of having lost a very much wanted pregnancy in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests that rocked the United States in 2016. A more detailed and intimate account of my miscarriage, along with an interview, can be found in the creative nonfiction piece, “Blighted,” published at Mud Season Review. The poem also contemplates the possibility of bringing new life into the world in spite of the ongoing turmoil and crisis people of color continue to face at the brutal hands of a militarized police force.
This poem is not meant to be some grand argument or commentary on the highly politicized and divisive terms of “pro-choice” and “pro-life.” The poem just is.
“Everything is connected and we exist in more than one plane, this is the concept of the singularity and multiverse. We are tuned in to one plane but it doesn’t mean that’s the only one that exists.” – Mek Yambao
We are reminded of the possibilities of past children
we surrendered to circumstance and ended their existence
before their lives could even begin.
The morning after we made love, I walked to work
and prayed for the beginning of your existence
as I imagined 100 million sperm swimming to my egg.
We conceived a week after the mass shooting in Orlando
and three weeks after a judge was much too kind to a Stanford rapist.
A week after your conception
it had been the 100th birthday
of your revolutionary great-grandfather whose ghost
would hint at your existence by
making his picture frame crash from our shelf
while heralding the bombing of Turkey
and then the bombing of Baghdad.
Days ordinarily divided into boxes
suddenly steamrolled into one long newsreel of
Alton Sterling then Philando Castile then 5 Dallas police officers
while I marveled at a positive pregnancy test in my hand
and already knew the world would always
be unrelenting toward you.
I cradled an empty house inside my belly
while another young mother,
Korryn Gaines, cradled her little son for the last time
in the home of her slender arms. She who was
handed over to bullets because of our failures
and was brought back to life through
everyone chanting, Say Her Name.
Meanwhile, your existence would be limited
to the eternity of a poppy seed, forever housed
in your solar system where our ancestors swim
among a tidal wave of red cells
until you would face your own quiet disintegration
dissolving like fish eggs and fish eyes
and I cannot save you.