Skip to Content

a poem about abortion

By Devi K. Lockwood

No, not scrubs. Put on your tight purple dress and heels,
dig them into the new carpet. You have to look gorgeous,
that way they’ll trust you. And the patients start pouring in.
Here’s to many pregnant women in this small town, many
small hands growing inside them. A computer and some wine.
Jessica Brent came on the radio while I gave another woman
an ultrasound. She was picking her guitar, rubbing her belly,
telling the imagined audience she is the oldest child, and lovesick,
and where did this baby come from? Down by the river,
not a single couple makes out in the dark. After work
I like to stand there alone, where old meets new. I watch
the Mighty Miss, her ebbs. What is growth? Where are we

flowing out of ourselves and into someone else, their stories?
How slowly must a thing grow to be alive? I can’t quite make
out the other shore, but I know it’s there. I would reach my hands
out to touch it, but my arms aren’t long enough and I don’t know
how to swim. In this mighty state, a woman has to have an ultrasound
before the pregnancy is undone. Somewhere one of my patients pees
on a stick and lets down her hands and her hopes like a shade
at a too-bright window. It is dark outside. No one wants
the neighbors to see. You can’t outrun their hands digging
knives into turkey breasts, you can’t answer every question they ask,
every way they try to tell you they love you. Let’s legislate your body.
They love you. They do. To the many pregnant women

in this small town, and as many small bodies growing inside them,
I want to say: if we look nervous, it’s because we are. Somewhere
fear is a condom in the back of a wallet pressed shut, a pile of cash
on the kitchen table. Somewhere cities aren’t the only places
with healthcare and somewhere abortions are free. In my line of work,
I need love to keep my hands from freezing on the inside. There are people
carrying signs outside my door, shouting arguments about fingernail
development. I need a pen to spin through my fingers when they are idle.
I need you to turn up the radio, louder please. Just so that I don’t have
to listen to this shit again. When I retire, I want to live in a meadow with
not one child, not one soul in sight. Really, they kiss the wind
as they blow past.

Added: Wednesday, July 23, 2014  /  Lockwood's poem took Second Place in Lighting the Way: The 3rd Annual Abortion Rights Poetry Contest in 2014 sponsored by the Abortion Care Network and Split This Rock.

Devi K. Lockwood is a poet, touring cyclist, and storyteller currently traveling the world with a cardboard sign around her neck to collect stories from people she meets about water and climate change. You can follow her travels at, on twitter, and on facebook. Her poems have been published by Sinister Wisdom, Verse Wisconsin, Cicada, Clockhouse, and are forthcoming in Adrienne. She has also written a book-length manuscript of poems, There Are No Straight Lines, inspired by the stories people told her on an 800-mile solo bike trip that she took in 2013 along the Mississippi River Trail––"a poem about abortion" comes from that collection.

Other poems by this author