A Procedure

A cavalcade of melon-bellied women

undiscernible ankles

and engorged fingers

chirp and chatter

over colors, costumes, and colleges



The mother in law iced the towering cake with grandbabies clutching at her ankles. “I had four babies within six years. My life had meaning then, truly. There is nothing like being a mother.” She lifted her ill-fitting blouse to reveal a battlefield of stretch marks. Her proof that she had done it, like everyone else.



Here is your map.

Here are your tools.

You know your objective?

Good. Go.


I remember the smell of your soft hair after your daily bathing. Lilac and baby powder. It was like Heaven. I missed it when you were old enough to bathe yourself. Like it was a connection I was no longer given privilege to. You wouldn’t remember it, but I do. All the time.



Segue through gelatin

down the tunnel

and make a right

loop around


“You’ll change your mind”


“You’ll regret it”


“It’ll happen by chance”




Ward off

the ovarian beasts

and remove the invader—

received an invite

but outmanned the barrier



She embraced one of the sweetest darlings she had ever beheld. She rocked her until her arms fell asleep but the gentle, joyous cooing still lingers lovingly in her mind.



lubed and prodded


carved and canaled


scooped and scraped


What to expect when you’re not expecting?




Nicole McCarthy is an experimental writer currently in the MFA program at the University of Washington Bothell. She has work appearing or forthcoming in Punctuate Magazine, The Fem, and others. She is the managing editor of The James Franco Review.