Columbus Day


When you have a miscarriage,
do it on a holiday.
There are more taxis
than people on the streets,
but they won’t see you, banshee in a t-shirt.

Run instead.
Your jarring footfalls will help.
Run to the VA Hospital,
clutching your belly like a water balloon.
They will turn you away
Run further uptown. Run to Bellevue.
It’s suitable there. Explain what’s happening
in detail so that they’ll be sure to help you.

They will. Lay on a gurney for an hour
in the emergency room.
Realize that the triage nurse
is the barfly from your corner pub.
Turn your head.

Turn your head so that she won’t see you.
She might want to talk. You want to talk.
Ask for a phone so that you can call the father.

He will tell you that he might come by,
after dinner with his family.
His brother, his mother.
This helps. This helps you to let go.

When you are admitted,
lie awake all night.
Worry helps. Worry works.
Make sure that nobody comes
to check in on you.

The next day, you will find out that
there is nothing to worry about.
Nothing to let go of.
Reassure the procession
of friends who come.

Your best friend will bring you
lotion and a book. The man you thought
you would marry brings oranges.
He remembers. He cares.

He asks you why you are here, if
you will be all right. You won’t know
the answer to either of those questions.

The father will arrive last.
He will tell you, I’m not going to
marry you or anything.
You will thank him for this.

When they take you upstairs
to scrape the phantom in
your womb clean, cry.
You have failed even at this.


Karen Ladson is a writer and youth mentor residing in Brooklyn, NY.

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