Five Months Vulnerable [Burleigh Mutén]

Entitlement never entered my mind.
I was pregnant, five months vulnerable
when a doctor suggested I have an abortion.
This is why we do amniocentesis, he said.

I was pregnant, five months vulnerable,
an extra X chromosome in every cell.
This is why we do amniocentesis, he said.
This fetus will develop breasts in his teens.

An extra X chromosome in every cell.
No real concept of diversity in 1984.
This fetus will develop breasts in his teens.
No words: pangender or transgender.

No real concept of diversity in 1984,
a science-based, legal procedure, that’s all.
No words: pangender or transgender.
No social, evidence-based research, just

a science-based, legal procedure, that’s all
when a doctor suggested I have an abortion.
No social, evidence-based research, just
entitlement never entered my mind.

 

Burleigh Mutén’s verse novel, Miss Emily, is based on the lively, loyal friendship Emily Dickinson enjoyed with the children in her neighborhood. Mutén is the former publisher of Hands of the Goddess Press, the smallest of presses with one title, Return of the Goddess engagement calendar, which was distributed internationally in the early nineties.

Inspiration: I immediately thought, I can write a poem with the words fetus and diversity in one sentence, that nightmare experience of 34 years ago still begging to be put onto the page. I chose pantoum to capture the haunting, repetitive thoughts that are borne of shock and loss. The brutally honest, brave expansion of gender definition is one dimension of culture where we can see growth in these “modern” times.

 

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