When a Mother Wakes Up on a Tuesday Morning and Decides She’s Ready, She’ll Write a Letter to the Child She Never Knew or, The Abortion Poem
by Noah Diaz
You had a name. Two actually. One for if you came out with bits dangling between your legs, one for if you didn’t. They told me not to name you; told me to swallow each vowel of your names, each consonant, and hide them in my womb next to you (they told me you’d make room); they told me they’d use each letter as a stitch to sew me back up after they helped you leave.
I took an online quiz once, and it was this series of fifteen questions and it told you whether or not you’re a feminist. One of the questions, after Which do you prefer: blue or pink? and Would you ever let your man chat with another girl at a bar: yes or no?, was Do you want to be a mom?
I’m sorry I said no.
I believe Jesus is hugely who He says He is: the crooked arm of my physician, the dirty feet of my first husband, the dirty feet of my oldest brother, the scar on my second husband’s chin, the hair on that grocery boy’s cheek.
Sometimes I think it’s funny that whenever I imagine Jesus, he always seems to have the face of the last man that touched me.
There was a time in the tenth grade (maybe ninth) when I almost drowned in the pool in that YMCA down off Harrison. In the blue-green lights of death I remember thinking, I’m sorry I plucked you from your home and I hope you saw something other than this blue and green and Is this what it’s like to be baptized?
In eighth grade, a girl with thick curls sat across from me at lunch, watched me eat the corn on my tray, the sloppy joe, the diced watermelon, and cupping her head in two pink hands, she whispered, “Only sluts eat the watermelon seeds.”
“No,” I said, “Only sluts let the seeds grow into watermelons.”
When your grandma heard about what I did to you, she e-mailed me a list of every sin Jesus won’t forgive. I pictured the teenage-you, strands of hair stuck to your chin, rolling your eyes.
I think you’d be seven today.
Yes. Seven. Happy birthday.
They tell me I don’t owe you anything, but I don’t really think that’s true.
So here’s the history of how it happens: things fall apart, baby. (And I read a book all about that in high school so I think it’s probably true.) Things fall apart all the time. And that’s just how it is. You take that job in Minneapolis and you move there after you sell all your books because they’re too heavy to pack and you feel like an idiot because you realize that you have more pairs of shoes than you probably need but you keep the shoes and toss the books and when you start your job you meet a boy and you feel like a slut because you put on extra lip gloss whenever he’s around even when you don’t realize you’re doing it and then one afternoon he invites you to drinks with his buddies from the 22nd floor and you go because the project you’re working on is harder than you expected and you want a cheap margarita (a $3 fucking margarita) and you go because you haven’t had Mexican in a while and you’re not even drunk but you start to spread your legs a little too wide when you slip out from the booth to use the bathroom just so he can see the purple underwear you bought at Target two weeks ago and that night you let him fuck you because his hair fell in a perfect curl around his ear and he has a chipped tooth and for whatever reason that’s really fucking doing it for you and mainly because you want to.
You want to.
And that doesn’t make you a slut.
I don’t regret what I did.
I wasn’t ready for you.
Once, when I was laid out with the flu, I watched that Daily Mass thing on CatholicTV.
Cold and sticky with sweat, I thought I saw you, bouncing on the knee of a woman in the front pew. Drool beading at your chin, your bib swiveled back and tucked behind you, you looked towards the camera, at me, and I waved.
Noah Diaz is an Omaha-based actor and poet. His poems have been featured in 13th Floor Magazine, The Gateway, and Prairie Schooner. He won the 2013 Omaha Prose Slam, sponsored by the University of Nebraska – Omaha’s creative writing department. As an actor, he is the recipient of five Theatre Arts Guild Awards, three Broadway World Awards, the Elaine Jabenis Award, the Barbara Ford Award, and the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Award. He’s currently studying to become a sign language interpreter.