Poetry

Greg Gibson/AFP

 

By

Alexandra Umlas

 

 

Jane Roe

(Norma McCorvey, Roe of landmark ‘Roe V. Wade’ ruling, passed away February 18, 2017)

 

 

The name conjures fish eggs

alchemied in the ovaries, life suspended.

You were impoverished, unwed, a freak show

barker turned side show, your womb,

a plum, swelling too quickly for the ruling

to do you any good. I can imagine

the underbelly of your grief. The frustration

of anonymity, of being so many things:

champion, nymph, Sisyphus, sub-sister.

 

Your life was simple, you said, all you wanted

was to empty the O of your womb, to “lay down”

you whispered, instead opening your body

to the world, so that Roe was only case

and not contents. Norma McCorvey,

your alibi was an 8th grade education, or eyes

that were only beginning to shutter open. Clawing

your way to the center of causes, you always ended

up in the margins, waiting to be born.

 

I wonder at your choice of baptism, if an ocean

would have been too wild, a church too still.

There is the smell of chlorine as he dips you in the pool,

your eyes closing tight, the dilation of your pupils,

undeceived? Death is not always the end.

We bury you as Jane and Norma.

The rhythm of your heart beating

back into the universe. The sun of our wombs

burning with you; the moon of our wombs weeping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexandra Umlas

Alexandra Umlas is currently an MFA student at California State University, Long Beach. She lives in Huntington Beach, CA.

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