Monday, June 26, 2006

I'm Pre-Pregnant

I go barefoot a lot. I mean I love to dance around in my slightly-cowboy-slightly-R.E.M. harness boots, I have always made sure to have at least one pair of "these-boots-were-made-for-walking" boots, and I love putting on my little black dress and completing the ensemble with a pair of my two-and-a-half or three-and-a-half-inch-heeled "I enjoy being a girl" shoes. But when I come home, or after I've gone out to dinner and am taking a walk down city sidewalks, or decide I want to dance unencumbered, and many other scenarios, the shoes are off. Taking out the garbage, walking to the corner mailbox to send a letter, getting some fresh air with a walk in the rain, gardening, anything on green grass -- all done in barefeet.

But I think I might be wearing shoes a little more often now, because since the Bush Administration has now deemed me "pre-pregnant," simply because of my age and gender and the fact that, sorry Mr. President, I'm not currently pregnant, I refuse to be Barefoot and pre-Pregnant.

But maybe now that this new category, a close cousin, or mother, to the category of "pre-born," has been created, Mr. Bush will support tougher environmental protection laws -- since so many women are now seen as pre-pregnant with the pre-born, he of course wouldn't want them to be exposed to dangerous toxins and pollutants....? Curiously, um, no. But certainly he'll reverse the cuts in health care for poor or other uninsured pre-moms, right? No such luck. But wait, the vaccine for cervical cancer! Bush must have changed his position that this would just encourage more young girls and unmarried women to have sex -- I mean women with cervical cancer probably couldn't be considered pre-pregnant, so.... "So what?!" is I guess what our governing executive branch must think, because no, this vaccine is still facing all the same political obstacles.

But, seriously, it follows that men of a certain age group will now be considered pre-impregnators, and be reminded of their health responsibilities on cans of beer and packs of cigarettes....

Phew! I bet it was a close call, but at least for now, men can sigh a sigh of relief that they are still, well, men. Sovereign, self-determined men.

All of this political posturing on reproduction has reminded me of a poem I wrote several years ago, probably about ten years ago, after I inadvertently listened to Pat Robertson go on about women and their pre-ordained calling to "multiply" the number of little so-called Christians out there. Unfortunately, I could write this again now, not just prompted by the lectures of a conventional-wisdom-crazy, but by the positions of -- the Office of the President.

Moral Majority Dream
After falling asleep to the television, on which “The 700 Club"
was airing an episode about motherhood and women’s role in

I go in
not knowing if I will ever
come out
or come out the same.
Jimson weeds grow
from the ceiling, the tunnel
beats its heart over mine.
The Christian Army nurse sits
folding birds into nests.
She tells me it’s
Pregnancy Day
and my prayer time has come.
The screaming, swollen cat under the sink
turns quiet
and the nurse measures the needle
against my skin.
My stomach burns in its seizure
and swells with sweat,
still unholy.
The nurse, now proud with gospel,
leads me to the waiting room.
Pain sits squarely on my lap.
It unloads its thickening waste
and gives me a story I’m afraid to tell.
There I spend everyday
scrubbing Bibles and belt buckles,
and every night putting my pennies
into my pillbox, counting them up,
saving for the rainiest day to come.


ryan said...
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ryan said...

I’m a complete sucker for this (charged) poem, which gains such great intensity as you move through. Admittedly, my delight is buoyed by the phrasing and content of the last five lines--of which I’m very much a fan--which is to say the rich landscape is as easily contained in these more precise "lines," as anywhere else. But the more I read this, the more I like it entire, the more I find it a lovely and workable piece. And, of course, I would never think to exclude such fine lines as, "The Christian Army nurse sits / folding birds into nests." which reveals its own sharpness, an acuity that captures one of the essential gestures in this poem: the role, or perceived role of society.

I think the topic is interesting—and from time to time, you provide real anchoring for the juxtaposition of innocence/experience in the poem with your image/word choices ( [the uncertainty in the forepart], "the tunnel beats its heart over mine," "leads me to the waiting room," "There I spend everyday," and the very fine last 3 lines). There is a fine tension between Subject/Object, as the Speaker acts, and is acted upon.

You effectively zero in on a tension btwn balance/control & btwn order/will. Nicely done.

I am a little less wound up with the (weaker) opening lines, but I can live with them, probably. So I suppose I would demand greater specificity in image & language in those first 4 or 5 lines. And, as regards structure/layout: I am slightly nutty about how a poem is fixed to the page. Although your deft handling of line/pace do wonders for the poem, there is something unattractive to the eye as the lines become less & less abrupt. Not a fair criticism, I know.

What I like most is that the poem escapes the collapsing meme, certainly driven by the poem, and certainly not quickly disposable. It makes a statement. And not just as a receptacle for the zeitgeist of the poem.

So. Yeah. You can just mark this down as one I’m biased towards and I'll probably return for enjoyment. Many times.

Enjoyed, Sara, very much. Thanks for the opportunity to read and respond.