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Published: Fri Apr 15 2022
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
AGNI 95 Gender Sexuality Parenthood
—Disappearance—Nativity

                            I was a garden and you
my gardener. I was a house,
              you my lodger,

                            lodged beneath my heart.
My Heart, you were the fist that knocked
              and knocked and I would not answer.

                            You starved me down
until a glance could pass straight through me
              as I lay

                            on the obstetrician’s vinyl couch,
under a shroud
              that stank of Clorox.

                            They mined for you—
their probes slick with
              the scentless oils of technicians—

                            for whom I must
be opened, peeled back, forced
              to look. And I did, as I was told—

                            not relax—exactly—but give myself up
to your co-conspirators, who dug you
              out of the blankness of my flesh,

                            parted the dark waters and suddenly
you came forth
              a smudge of white against the ultrasound’s

                            blackness, you floated spectral and thickly
pale, a magnolia in a bowl,
              an elegant centerpiece. You had no heart,

                            were as minimal as a Mobius strip.
But you had style. Even your dying
              was oddly stylish, the way you resembled

                            more and more each day a comet,
the wan tail of you grew
              longer, more tenuous on the screen.

                            I saw you calmly
and with endearing gravity take a nose dive
              until the light blinked out and I was

                            no longer a house for an uninvited guest,
nor heaven for a gauzy constellation.
              The screen went dark and I came back

                            to myself. I was no longer a ghost’s ghost.
I was myself again. I was flesh. And living.  

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Lynn Emanuel is the author of five books of poetry, includingThe Nerve Of It: Poems New and Selected (Pitt Poetry Series, 2015), which received the Lenore Marshall Award from The Academy of American Poets. Her most recent book, Transcript of the Disappearance, Exact and Diminishing, was published by the Pitt Poetry Series in 2023. (updated 5/2024)

Read Emanuel’s essay, “The Mother,” in AGNI’s The Writing Lives of Roe v. Wade.

 

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