Right the Ship

I write to you out of a sense of duty and love for my country. I am a physician who understands that denying women access to abortion results in death, injury, and disease from unsafe pregnancy termination. Forcing women to keep unwanted pregnancies also results in increased crime rates a generation later, as was noted by the national drop in crime after Roe v. Wade.

I am a concerned citizen appalled that women’s rights may regress back to a time when women were more overtly treated as second-class citizens. While some may think this goes without saying, women’s rights are human rights. The Supreme Court’s apparent reasoning behind repealing Roe is weak, and could easily lead to further measures of progress being lost. 

Beyond my qualifications as a physician and my insight as a born-and-raised American, I am adamant that abortion be kept legal due to my appreciation of the myriad reasons why women may seek to end pregnancy. As an adolescent I suffered both rape and impaired access to contraception. This is an all too common scenario that most victims never disclose due to stigma. 

As a young adult, I escaped from abusive relationships through abortion, for which I am eternally grateful. Being forced to wait at least three days after watching the pre-procedure video to receive the procedure as mandated by law was demeaning, however it was far more tolerable than complete denial of care. Abortion is exponentially safer than pregnancy and childbirth. 

I am now a mother with firsthand experience of the lasting and profound impact of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood on a woman’s health. I am able to provide for my family today because I had an abortion when my husband and I subsisted below the poverty line while I studied medicine. Our previous pregnancy resulted in persistent, severe illness which impaired my ability to safely care for my patients, and at the time we could not afford the cost of prenatal or child care on top of my husband’s burdensome student loan payments. Ending my previous pregnancy continues to have a lasting positive impact on our family. 

I beseech you to protect the rights of millions of Americans to maintain autonomy over our own bodies. While those in power may threaten our right to make decisions, we will continue to fight for each other and for our children. I write to you with my daughter by my side. I pray that she will grow up in a country where she has at least as much freedom to make the best choices for herself as her parents did. I am living proof that when our nation’s most economically vulnerable are let down by inadequate access to healthcare, childcare, contraception, and transportation, abortion is the final safety net that allows us to right the ship of our lives.

NYOB

Dear Government,

What happens in my body is my business.

You didn’t make my body your business when I was molested as a child, raped as a teenager, or sex trafficked as a young adult.

You didn’t notice when I struggled to access birth control due to poverty.

You didn’t mind when I was trapped in toxic relationships with misogynistic, manipulative men who drove me to contemplate suicide.

You didn’t pay a dime when I asked my health insurance to cover the care I needed.

In part thanks to the abortions obtained through no help from you, I am a physician now.

You devour the tax money I earn with my blood, sweat, and tears. You are undeserving of my sacrifices.

You need to back off.

What I do with my body is none of your business.

You didn’t care about my body before, don’t pretend to care now.

My body knows the truth.

But truth, like freedom, equality, or justice, isn’t your business.

Raging

The Supreme Court has me raging today.

I feel fire in my veins, each heartbeat fans the flames.

Would you like a cup of tea? My blood is boiling, don’t want to waste it.

Like I didn’t want to waste my life by staying in injurious relationships that were slowly killing me so I pulled the plug and let unwanted pregnancies wash down the drain.

The body will choose survival over reproduction, every time.

My abortions provided instant relief for my body and brain, another chance at life, freed from shackles that no one saw but that would have destroyed me just the same.

Forced pregnancy is a grave injustice with adverse repercussions for the individual, families and society. Unsafe abortions are horrific, unnecessary and dangerous.

What is this nightmare I woke up to today?

I am burning with rage.

Happily Ever After

All the fairy tales I was fed as a child ended in a wedding which marked the end of struggle and the beginning of happily ever after.

Although I am married, I didn’t have a wedding, so perhaps I shouldn’t expect happily ever after anyway, but let’s set realistic expectations for today’s youth.

No one ever talks about who makes the mortgage payments on Barbie’s dream house, or if Barbie is irate that Ken doesn’t do the dishes, or the countless ways that Barbie acquiesces to his wishes.

You don’t hear about the cost of marriage counseling weighed against the weightless feeling of walking away from the marriage.

I dropped the ball on my biggest crush because I thought that my strong feelings were enough. I was sure that adoring someone meant that of course they felt the same, and we’d both effortlessly stay that way forever.

Nope.

Love quenches and parches and drowns and surrounds and swallows you and spits you back out again.

I always land on my feet.

Lost

People speak of losing your virginity as if you misplaced it like a set of keys; a small albeit important object.

When did you lose it? They ask as if it absconded into the void, like it is a mystery to solve by asking when you last remember having it.

People act like you had a precious gem that you carelessly dropped into a deep body of water, thus proving that you were not worthy of possessing it in the first place.

No one ever asks me who stole my virginity, who coerced it out of me before I knew it existed, who ripped it from my underwear while I was sleeping as a child.

Our memories are not the result of our actions alone.

To anyone who prods and pries to get the story of how I lost my virginity, get lost.

A Tale of Two Titties

My tits used to be ornamental, fruit of my tree

Now they serve a purpose greater than me

I breastfeed my baby night and day

Engorged and heavy, my tits now sway

Leaky Lefty has an easy flow

Old Faithful, the right breast, is steady and slow

Faithful humbly carried the load when Lefty was out of commission due to a painful combination of mastitis and a blocked milk duct

My breasts lost their perkiness and youthful appeal long ago

Before the rise of services such as Only Fans, for which they could have raked in riches, I’m told

I’ve worked a lot harder for a lot lower wages

Putting aside all rampages, I bow my head in gratitude for my body, my baby, and my reproductive freedom

Rising

It happened on the floor of a Brooklyn apartment, as it often does

Purged by pain, I had everything to gain: liberation from my life of struggle

Coming out both ends, my aimless wandering seemed endless

Suddenly without knowing what it was, a ball of energy from the base of my body buzzed upward through my core

Reaching my lips, I could not speak

My vision vibrated when it reached my eyes

Then it passed silently through the crown of my head and disappeared as inexplicably as it had appeared

Lying on the carpet, I found myself euphoric

I had not prepared myself for what I would later come to know as a kundalini awakening

The night before I had gotten drunk and likely binged on sacrilegious foods, if I could afford any: memories of longing after Mexican baked goods are hazy

The journey was both ending and beginning

Blink

They say that you’ll grow up in the blink of an eye, that these precious moments will fly by.

They say that tomorrow you’ll start kindergarten, and next year you’ll graduate high school.

For now, you are still tiny and by my side.

I can hold you and gaze into your baby eyes.

I see eternity reflected back at me.

Your smile elicits bliss. I’ve never known a love like this.

My old friend, PTSD, brings traumatic memories.

I hope you don’t experience any of the horrors I have endured.

May you feel safe and supported.

If my love could protect you always, if my kisses made you bullet-proof…

Little one, you are teaching me how to love more deeply

I want to be present for you, bear witness to the miracle of your life

Yet my eyelids are heavy

Do I dare blink?

High Wire

Every time I write, I play with fire

I know it is just a matter of time before my luck expires

When you find my words there will be hell to pay for what I didn’t say to your face

The dicks I didn’t count, the stories I didn’t recount you.

After all I have given, how can you think I owe you anything but grace?

Yet I step out on this high wire, teetering and tottering over the mire

You are up in my business and have no business of your own

I warn you: if you mess with me, you will be the one without a home

Stop trying to squeeze me dry like a lime

With love an patience, all is yours in time

Damaged Goods

When winter blows in

My mind flies south

Predators got to me early

Forming my pliable brain

I apparently didn’t get herpes or HIV

Though I just as easily could have

All those naked penises were guns loaded with bullets I couldn’t see: viruses, bacteria and potential pregnancy

I am thankful for my good luck

When I rub one out

I get my rocks off from the perspective of my almost-rapists

Not my actually rapists

But the ones who backed away in time

My youth brought both lure and protection

The ideal never meets the real

Hold on to your ideals, your fantasies of how great life could be

We all hunger for more

I pick up what is left of my ravaged flesh and carry on

They left me alive so far, perhaps to feast on me again

I strengthen and heal

Yet still I feel damaged

The burnt tree stands tall despite it all

It wears its charred scar well

The wound is a part of its heart which keeps beating

In tune with the heartbeat of the earth, and the heartbeat of the past, present and future trees

I settle into the rhythm