AJ Wolff: Sacral
Photo: Joanna C. Valente

Photo: Joanna C. Valente



When I call to schedule my abortion and the receptionist asks the reason for my appointment,

                                    I say:


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,

he says.


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

like incantation

or grass.

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.

            on loop.


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.