My body is a flag across the table.
I am spreading my legs because
this is what women do. My body
isn’t sure it wants to
carry this, but my body has been bleeding
for two months, a period of patriotism,
though my colors run.
From above, what you see are three women
in a room, two fully clothed, one in a paper
gown on a table. The one in a paper
gown is a flag, her feet in metal stirrups.
What she doesn’t know is tomorrow.
What she doesn’t know is how many of us
there are until we all show up.
A woman holds the device to slip inside me,
to stop the bleeding, to stop the babies,
to offer the progesterone my body
is refusing to make. My body is a flag woven
in the metaphysics of bleeding. How to sew
a perfect woman. How to hem
a menstrual flow. In my paper gown,
the doctor tells me there may be a little pain
for next four years,
while the nurse comforts—her hand
on my arm while another woman inserts
her hand, a speculum, the device,
inside me. My body is a ragged flag,
worn but still flying.
Kelli Russell Agodon’s most recent book, Hourglass Museum (White Pine Press, 2014), was a Finalist for the Washington State Book Awards and shortlisted for the Julie Suk Prize in Poetry. Her other books include The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice (coauthored with Martha Silano), Fire On Her Tongue: An Anthology of Contemporary Women’s Poetry (co-edited with Annette Spaulding-Convy), and Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, winner of the Foreword Book of the Year Prize for poetry and a finalist for the Washington State Book Awards. Her work as appeared in The Atlantic, Harvard Review, and New England Review. Kelli is the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press where she works as an editor and book cover designer and is also the Co-Director of the Poets on the Coast: A Weekend Writing Retreat for Women. She lives in a sleepy seaside town in the Pacific Northwest where she is an avid paddleboarder and hiker. She is currently working on her 4th collection of poems. www.agodon.com / www.twosylviaspress.com