Three Poems (#2) – April Ranger

Not A Mother

for Purvi Patel, sentenced to 20 years prison in Indiana for feticide and child neglect after miscarrying a fetus, April 2015

How you bled & bled
till you nearly died,
but how you wanted to live:
trusted those bald hospital walls,
gloved hands, sheets clean
as preacher’s speech.
Wrists cuffed, knees spread,
body splayed, courtroom bench
your emergency room bed – the bed
you made, they’ll say.

And how I have praised
my own sudden blood:
my red verdict spelled plain
in the folds of my underwear:
my private sentence, a free woman’s walk
to the drugstore. How I swallowed pills
before and after. How I’ve danced.
How I danced till I sweat
when my blood arrived
one month after
he carried me home,
refused the condom
and I was a languageless girl
then. I mean No
was an unborn word,
the tiniest fist,
and who would save her?
Deliver her kicking
and screaming?

The Question

For Carrie Rudzinski

I dream of someday having a daughter
so when she asks me what love is
I can tell her the story of us,
which is of course, many stories,
but here is the most important one:

eating pizza in St. Paul the day after
we read poems at your old Catholic High School
during anti-abortion week. The teens
wore pins with babies’ pink cheeks
and sometimes the word murder
and neither of us spoke of it.

Here, we burned our fingers
on the hot crust and while we waited
for it to cool, I asked Would you still be my friend
if I had an abortion?
expecting a knee-jerk

Of course, but you looked at me
like I’d kicked you in the ribs.
The whole world seemed to stop.
I could hear ice swirl in plastic cups
at tables nearby, and isn’t this what we mean
by eternity? Not heaven
or hell, or purgatory, but the silence
after Would you love me if?

I watched you go inside to pray.
I’d seen you do that before,
while I waited on the steps of a church
in Sacramento, but here we stayed
in the red booth of the pizza parlor,
and I watched you go inside to pray.

My heart hammered in my ears
and I felt a thread inside me loose,
pulling me open, undone,
when your eyes lifted and you said,
Yes, April. It’s different for me,
but yes, I would. And I would go
with you if you needed me.

And if love is anything other than this,
than listening with your widest heart,
choosing words before you speak,
digging through your own beliefs
the way a farmer pulls up weeds
to keep her roots, if love is anything
but an on-going question, how,
and meeting eyes and meeting eyes,
then I have never known it,
this is all I have to offer.

While On Vacation In Maine My Younger Brother Drives Me To Get The Morning After Pill

I know I’ve made a series of bad decisions when my life feels like a commercially successful indie movie. But here we are, in the Rite Aid parking lot, freezing rain whipping the windshield & Sam says,

Is it cool if I stay in the car?
& I’m like
Yes, please, stay in the car!
& he’s like
I mean, normally, I’d go in the store, to be supportive, but –
& I say
No, no, PLEASE stay in the car I’ll be right back –

& we roll our eyes and laugh like we’re 11 & 7 & I don’t even need to wait at the pharmacy section, plan B pills taken from their mansion on the hill & set free in the aisles like they’ve joined the proletariat among shaving cream and breath mints, next to the condoms & lube:

one tiny pill
packaged in a box thirteen million times its size – as though the manufacturers wanted the consumer, little bitch, slut, whoever, to remember that while the pill might be tiny, her mistake certainly was not

but here I am now in the front seat of the van while Sam backs up & I tear the plastic open with my teeth and swallow the pill with a small thanks to each person who fought for the right of this purchase, & he drives us to a diner and lets me cry and laugh between forkfuls of blueberry pancakes



About April Ranger

April Ranger is a Brooklyn-based poet and playwright. View all posts by April Ranger

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