When I call to schedule my abortion and the receptionist asks the reason for my appointment,
I want an abortion.
When I go to pay for my own abortion, I am asked not to tell anyone
because it might hurt them because they would not love me,
I am asked to pretend I did not read Judith Arcana
in the waiting room while a radio newsbreak told me:
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said:
Women who have abortions deserve to be punished.
I am asked to pretend it wasn’t beautiful like summoning
the hurricane to disperse and watching the branches
snapped over me reattach and arch
upwards like praise
like a crane with steel beams
My hands a halo
for all the earth I’ve walked.
And for those weeks I pretend my body is not
bleeding alive thirty days and thirty nights of rain
after drought—I am punished.
The sway of my moods—the gentle gravity of my body
is properly arching electricity,
sunlight patterned in waves,
galaxies, the slow glide of a unwound spine.
—and the only person I am allowed to tell
that I am crazy-disgusting-sickening.
I die every day I do not praise her:
Abortion, Goddess [no stanza break]
of earth, vibration, and the low growl of sliding glass. I die every day, catatonic
in the fire green chair where I will never be nauseous again.
But today I invoke her—. My voice smoke spiral gravel.
My voice incandescence in a coke can. My voice dirt, earth, gin.
But today I am born
again, my lungs bursting free of the time and time and time
that he did not say her name that he would not praise her at the altar
of the lamb that never had to suffocate
the way I had to hold my bitch
But today I am born again. My son is born
again. My arms grow taut and ropey
from strangling every moment I couldn’t
breathe control myself
explain that what looked like weakness
was the thunder of my bones
rooted to un-break
trees to un-drown myown lungs
and to un- die everyday forever and ever.
Carpentry is a Long Division
Men keep telling me they want to learn to work with wood—
that learning to work with wood is a dying craft and it will benefit them,
and they are not telling me they want to feel themselves tall and wide as redwoods.
But when I say I feel a sliver they tell me—Hold very still, now.
They are not telling me that violence is a dying craft and it will benefit them,
but I feel myself in every pulse of tools, belts—in every dirty finger
in my mouth. I don’t put their hammers down like weapons
for my foundation. But I can build gates, too. I let myself fall
lengthwise across their shadows, the places they have mined for severance.
I don’t lay my mouth down, a cavern with latticework echoes in corners.
You see, I am finished letting men think they have built me,
just because they have pounded so many nails into my legs.
AJ Wolff is a queer single mother, feminist, poet (she/her/hers). Her work is published in Rising Phoenix Review, L'Éphémère Review Rust + Moth, Burning House Press, Riggwelter, and other generous presses.