Dissent (Jen Rouse)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg swings on a string
from my rearview mirror. She is evidence-based and
smells like bubble gum. Once I had to finish the job
of miscarrying a ball of cells. At the drive-up
window, the pharmacist giving me the pills
looked stricken.  “I have to ask if you are pregnant,” she said.
“Yes.  I mean, no.  I mean…”  so vulnerable, we are all here
dying in our vulnerability, and I had to finish this process.
Pharmacist: Do you know these pills will abort a fetus?  A fetus.     A fetus, fetus, fetus, FETUS!

Me:  Really, a fetus?  A fetus, huh?  Do you know that science-
based research wouldn’t even really consider this
a pregnancy?  And I’m a lesbian.  Just think.  In Iowa.
This kind of diversity!  A fetus!  Can you believe
they might let me carry one?!  Our schools even protect
our transgender children.  Here.  In Iowa.  I might’ve had
that perfect child.   But the science-based evidence
is this: my body is finishing off a cluster of diversity dust.
Pharmacist: Oh.

Ruth kept banging her head against my window with precision,
just as she had spent her ACLU years placing language into a brief—
like a chef would micro-greens with a tweezer, for that prefect dish
of diversity.  No room for error.  That was Ruth Bader Ginsburg
making your civil rights salad.

To be cared for in every vulnerable moment is not entitlement.
But even our heroes live into error and moments of entitlement.
RBG hangs from my rearview mirror, fading.  While the poets
abort these censorship fetuses, exploding the silence that Lorde
taught would never protect us.


Jen Rouse loves her Thunder Cunt t-shirt, lives in Iowa, is a lesbian, has a 12- year-old superstar daughter, and runs a Center for Teaching and Learning at Cornell College. Find her at jen-rouse.com or on Twitter @jrouse

Inspiration: I have been very privileged to have been allowed the language to live a life of relative freedom as a lesbian in Iowa.  I needed to write this poem to push myself and perhaps others to think how we as poets need to move past our places of comfort, as there is still so much and even more crucial work to do.


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