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By Sue D. Burton

--  for Spencer Reece

Today it’s Hopkins and his obscure spiritual contraptions
everything I read is heart-corseted, like a concealable vest,
police surplus good as new. Some fanatic is packing a gun.

I turn to Hopkins – living speech – sprung,
stressed, compressed – then I’m off again, help me, obsessed.
O, restless mind – my own strange spiritual contraption.

Armor with a warranty: order it online – unless you’re a felon.
But a killer aims at your head when you’re his holy pretext.
Right to choose: third eye, bull’s eye. Some fanatic is packing a gun.

Why is the body so feared, its physicality, its passion?
Even Hopkins – the beauty of the body is dangerous – wrestling
with God, that obscure spiritual contraption.

Last week I read we’re wired for God: blessed evolution.
We’re (spring me!) wired to control – oil, water, sex.
God help us: tonight a fanatic is packing a gun.

Another doctor shot. The killer thinks he’s won.
Bodies, ourselves – mere rhetoric? Beauty is the spirit fleshed.
I mourn, I get ready for work, I put on my contraption,
it presses on my heart. Some fanatic is packing a gun.

Added: Thursday, July 24, 2014  /  Burton's poem won Third Place in the 2012 Abortion Rights Poetry Contest. Split This Rock is proud to co-sponsor this contest with the Abortion Care Network. This poem originally appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal Winter 2010/2011.

Sue D. Burton is a physician assistant specializing in women’s health care (now retired). She was one of the first physician assistants registered by the State of Vermont to perform abortions. Her poetry has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, 5 A.M., Green Mountains Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, New Ohio Review, Shenandoah, and on Verse Daily.

Other poems by this author