you carry yourself into every second

You are 21, eyes widened in the face of debt, drought, doors and windows shutting. A ghost thrust into a zero-sum game; a once-child faced with baring children. A body fresh, supple, belonging yesterday to its own limits, now a philosophical exercise.

I see it, driving home from the clinic: your trembling, swallowed lips and fingers contracting around the steering wheel. You insisted on driving. Hard silence. We see a billboard for a vet’s office, tabby cat, eyes gleaming at tired drivers. Your fingers finally falter, you pull over, take a deep breath. Then another. Then a sob; we switch. “Start the car.”

I nod, and don’t. After eight minutes: “I can drive now.”

Your voice does not waver. You cannot crawl into your own hole and watch the darkness breathe there. The sink is full, there’s ink to spill, remember? A bed to collapse into.

Instead you take us home. Snake your arms around yourself, and create a heartbeat, all on your own. Angry, red, sternum-knocking, every waking and sleeping moment, in your chest but also wherever else needed — blood surges where the pressure builds — you carry it, drive it, live the damn thing. You kickstart, squeezing yourself whole every minute you’re pulled apart. You are the wail we listen for with held breaths.

January 22nd was the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It is unclear if we will observe a 50th. The makeup of the Supreme Court does not give me much hope.

I hate that abortion has been politicized to the point that it has. I hate that people try to characterize it in terms of black-and-white morality, in terms of constitutionality, in terms of sin and scripture. All I know is that real people will suffer if our already-precarious, thinly-spread federal protections are lifted. Poor people and BIPOC will suffer the most. I don’t want abortion to be necessary for anyone, but when it is, government moral (religious) directives do not help.

You can visit Planned Parenthood for more information on the future of Roe and reproductive justice across our country.

Thank you for reading.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

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she/her. intersectional feminist and lover of poetry. varshasenthilwrites@gmail.com

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Varsha Senthil

Varsha Senthil

she/her. intersectional feminist and lover of poetry. varshasenthilwrites@gmail.com

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