A Week Past the Leaked Supreme Court Draft Regarding Roe V. Wade

A man told me I should split
my poem in two. Did I tell you how

off State Route Four,
in a small market grocery

near Knappton Road
and a baseball diamond,

I sold pork rinds
to customers streaming

to the Columbia, last season’s
fish guts still

smearing their pants. My shirt
buttoned all the way up,

how some like to imagine
the collar of a 19th-century

recluse. In my apron pocket,
blades for opening

stock boxes or a man’s
anything if defense felt

required. Was I ashamed
or careful. What

would you have had me
be. On my break, I took my bike

down Knappton, past the church
and the post office

to a street I won’t name,
hard bend and heavily-aldered angle

and another tangle Google maps
can’t photograph to a trailer

in the green overstory
where my boyfriend waited.

I knew what I was doing.
I wanted to.

We had fourteen minutes
if I was quick enough

after, sweaty from pedaling
so hard, to punch

back in. Sometimes I spent
too long chatting with Sandy

in the back room
so that I had to call

and say, maybe tomorrow. I liked
telling him

he had to wait. Then I scooped
as much as I wanted

from my half-gallon
of Neapolitan

in the deep freezer
and walked to the park,

sat down in the miniature
daisies, removed my shoes

and socks, and imagined
University. The birds

agreed. Or I changed
into running clothes and hit

out a good two miles
on the tarry expanse

toward the cemetery
and back, sure to check

for shadows. One day, Ricks,
my regular who dagger-eyed

the sportsmen like a dad,
who asked me

while I rang up his kale
and his yogurt what books

I liked best, and why,
and listened, who carried

his reusable bags in a box
on the back of his ten-speed, who,

flannel-clad and toolbelted
smelled like mint

and sawdust because all year
he’d been reworking the inside

of an old home for his girlfriend, describing
weekly to me each small act of carpentry

or electrical wiring, and to whom
as I scanned onions and arugula

I’d gasped softly about his plans for bees,
at last invited me to see the salvaged

ornamental railing
of his staircase, the mirrors

he’d found in thrift stores,
junk yards, the whole house an art

installation. I hadn’t known. I left
okay but after that Sandy bagged

his food. And now, what difference
exists. Is this where you want me

to confess a gun rack
still gets me bothered

even after reading Eisler, Butler,
after assisting 83 young women

file Title IX complaints? Does it matter
the first part of the poem in question

described death fantasies
and pigs, the second,

babies and Dickinson? Anyone
aware of Wollstonecraft

or Madonna would tell you
about the complex, and yes I got bored

with the boy by July; my body
over it by September. And not.

And does this belong
in a different poem:

the summer before,
a man on a Greyhound

disclosed (stem of
desclore, from Latin ‘to close’)

I needed to know

between Omaha
and Spokane, and still,

after, for years I gave some
the benefit

of the doubt. I knew no one
would allow me that.

The sole clinic
near the township

staffed with someone’s
auntie. My best friend,

a Mormon, barely knew me.
And the poem in question

like an indie film, its subtitles cyclical,
contains a museum

of carcasses, a translation
of blood, a rude

provocation. Plus children.
But a man loves

a good couplet, especially
if he can watch, or set

a watch by it.
When I was thirteen,

a doctor told me my new breast
tissue was dense and I would need

to touch them frequently.
When my mother looked away,

he winked. Does this belong
in a different part. I’m tired.

You’re tired. Or were the seams
showing the last C-section

too clearly. Once a doctor
said the second was beautiful

because you could just remake
the same scar. You don’t even know

it happened twice,
he said, as if beauty

were my primary concern.

Maya Jewell Zeller (she/her) is the author of the forthcoming out takes/ glove box, selected by Eduardo Corral as winner of the New American Poetry Prize, as well as the interdisciplinary collaboration (with visual artist Carrie DeBacker) Alchemy For Cells & Other Beasts (Entre Rios Books, 2017), the chapbook Yesterday, the Bees (Floating Bridge Press, 2015), and the poetry collection Rust Fish (Lost Horse Press, 2011); as well as co-editor of the anthology Evergreen: Grim Tales & Verses From the Gloomy Northwest; and co-author of the textbook, Advanced Poetry: Pathways Into Poetic Lineage (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2023). Maya’s prose appears in such places as Brevity, Gettysburg Review, Bellingham Review, and Booth Journal. Recipient of a Promise Award from the Sustainable Arts Foundation as well as a Residency in the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Maya has presented her work internationally at the University of Oxford and in Madrid at the Unamuno Author Festival. An Associate Professor of English for Central Washington University and Affiliate Faculty for Western Colorado University’s low-residency MFA, Maya is at work on a memoir called Raised by Ferns. Find her on Twitter @MayaJZeller.