1. The Cure-All
Girl is attacked
in a park near home, and
before running, is called
But she gets home.
Girl does not know if
she is hemorrhaging, or
if the red on her hands is his.
She opens Momma’s door.
Gets no blood on the knob.
Girl’s crotch, an infinite ember.
Momma’s snores crawl down the stairs.
Her 16-hour days and
bad insurance mean Girl never asks
to go to the hospital. Girl never tells Momma
when the anemia turns her body into slush.
Girl is Momma’s daughter, after all.
Knows most things
can be healed with honey,
lemon, hot water.
Add Vicks, if necessary.
Girl goes to Harlem to get her things.
Getting your things is the sign the breakup
is for real. Her ticket to Indiana is one way.
She tells everyone she is going to grad school.
She is running from blood.
Her old man got a temper.
He says Baby! and pretends
he didn’t knock the hearing from her skull.
The hallways of the fourth floor walk-up
smell of Dettol; Dettol is how he always cleans up
fights or nights of sex with other women.
He asks for her body, and she declares her items as hers.
He says one last time, and she catches
a tongue in her throat. Her old man reduces her to a place
to put his dick when bored.
Her old man can wash her away for a dollar.
Girl does not get her things back.
(Is the breakup for real?)
Girl is thrown out of the apartment as quickly as he came,
uses her last fifty bucks,
walks to one of the new big chain drug stores that plague Harlem’s
once brown, delicate face. Asks for a morning after pill. Prays.
Makes the two-hour commute back to her Momma,
flies to Indiana two days after.
In her first seminar class, Girl uses the bathroom,
breaks to vomit. All she does is sweat and faint.
Girl ran from blood, and now prays for blood.
Goes to the doctor
where the Indiana nurse says
Plan B may not work if you weigh more than 176 pounds.
Indiana nurse says, pregnant.
Girl says, termination without a thought.
Nurse says, the fetus is a human being.
Girl says, me too.
Two weeks pass.
Girl’s decision can only be acted upon every other Thursday.
Doctor splits Girl’s crotch wide with metal,
says, this should not hurt since you were
ready to open your legs before this.
Thick, clear, devices connected
to Girl sucking, filling,
bright red the way children
enjoy the ends of Slurpees.
The nurse wraps what could have been
in a blue sheet; runs out of the room.
Sometimes, Girl imagines, what grew
inside of her still
floating in a biohazard tank, waiting to heal.
Sometimes, Girl imagines
the roots of a sycamore tree growing
in a dumpster.