In the second gynecology appointment after my last assault,
I laid there, hands clasped over my stomach, my bare ass rustling the white physician’s paper underneath me,
the doctor between my legs, slowly pushing the speculum inside me,
Try to relax, he said,
and I grit my teeth, willing my body to unclench, try to stop myself from caving in, like a flower in the cold.
It’s okay, he said, try to relax.
As if I can stop my muscles from pushing against his cold silver instrument.
I try to breathe through my nose, I look up at the ceiling, I try to get my brain to tell my vagina that it is okay, that this isn’t even like the last time, or the time before.
That this doctor who I trust is different than the boy that I trusted.
That the stark, infuriating sobriety now is different than the dark, dreary intoxicated that I was.
You are very tight, he remarks. Do you have problems having sex?
No, I say, I laugh haltingly, as my body tries to close again.
He scrapes a sample from my cervix, to test for Human Papillomavirus.
Tears spring to my eyes, and I pray that this ends soon,
To a god that I don’t pray to anymore.
Okay, he says, in perfect timing to the snap of his glove, that was it, that wasn’t so bad, was it?
No, I laugh, lying through my teeth. Guess I was just nervous.
I spent two weeks up late at night, researching Intrauterine Devices.
I scoured message boards, read the words of women, tried to calm my tired heart.
When your period comes, just give us a call, she said. We will schedule you an appointment for the next day.
I let her know before the appointment about the assaults, about my worry, about the anxiety,
we can give you a valium, she said, making notes. On a scale of one to ten, how painful was your last gynecology appointment?
A… six or a seven, I say.
Oh, she said, furrowing her brow at the chart.
You know that when we put in the device, we have to dilate your cervix.
You will feel a contraction, like you would have in labor.
It’s unpleasant, but it’s just for a second. She jots more notes.
For two weeks, I wait, with my breath held unknowingly, for my menstrual cycle.
I cry. I do more research.
I think about the prying open of my cervix, and I fold in on myself in preservation.
When I start, I don’t call.
Next month, I say. It has been four months.
Another friend is pregnant, announcing it by making a heart with her hands over her uterus,
She lights up as she shares that they are in the second trimester,
Or that the baby is the size of an apple, or a grapefruit, or an acorn squash.
Each post, her stomach becomes more convex, her hips widen, the ultrasound images
become increasingly clearer. She posts a video of her baby moving under her skin,
Her stomach rippling.
I fall in on myself in pre-emptive preservation.
I think about shoving an infant from me,
about the growing, and the birthing,
I think about how I would feel to not have my body be my own again.
I think about the difference between a wanted tenant, and an unwelcomed squatter.
I wonder if it would be worth it,
in order to have a human be half of me.
If maybe my motherhood should be manufactured, and not biological.
When a star collapses, pulled inward by its own gravity,
it creates a new equilibrium in which to exist,
Its own destruction becomes both a new creation
and a preservation,
a nebulous manufacturer of carbon, helium, oxygen.
A maternity gestated through termination.