Skip to Content

For What I Am About to Do

By Anna B. Sutton

This morning, there is an angel hanging by a thread,
cartoonish and carved out of soft wood. She twirls
circles above me, manipulated by the pulse

of a ceiling vent. Her purple dress is airless,
static, cut clumsy as the rest of her. I am laid out

below, open-legged like a pair of discarded scissors, rusting
in the grass. My starched hospital gown smells like driftwood
and bleach--natural rot and our chemical penance. The drugs

are taking effect. If I were an angel--without the weight of desire,
above the realm of human shame--I would never dress. My body

would be a collection of little prayers--the mouth of meeting
thighs, hanging breasts like bended knees, folds of skin
that soften the edges of my torso, thumbprint

dimples on my lower back, proof of God's touch.
As a young girl, I cradled a sweater stuffed

under my dress. Every childhood game began
or ended with the act of birth. The clothes closet:
a delivery room I entered alone, exited, arms wrapped

around a plastic doll, my fingers stained purple--grape ice-pop
dye. The Valium, the Demerol. The hum of the medical vacuum

like cicadas in the backyard. Outside my childhood
bedroom, the trees were so tall. They housed a hundred lives
in each of them. Many more, really. Outside this room,

there is an armed guard, bulletproof glass, the rest of my life.

Added: Tuesday, April 14, 2015  /  Anna B. Sutton's poem was awarded second prize in the 2015 Abortion Rights Poetry Contest, co-sponsored by the Abortion Care Network and Split This Rock. We thank the special guest judge, Katha Pollitt, for her generosity and discernment. -- Previously published in "Third Coast," Issue 38/39.
Anna B. Sutton

Anna B. Sutton is a poet and publisher from Nashville, TN. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Third Coast, Copper Nickel, Brevity, Quarterly West, Southeast Review, The Collagist, DIAGRAM, and other journals. She is the co-founder of The Porch Writers' Collective, web editor at One Pause Poetry, poetry editor at Dialogist, a nonfiction reader at Gigantic Sequins, and works in book publishing in North Carolina. She received her MFA from University of North Carolina Wilmington and a James Merrill fellowship from Vermont Studio Center.

Other poems by this author