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By Rayna Momen

Unprotected sex is a woman in America.

Unprotected sex is a woman in the world.

My body is my temple and will always be

it is not some place where you go to pray

it is not your place to decide how and whether

it should be shaped and changed

it is not ‘open for business’

for you to come inside and go as you please

it is not for you to discern

how much protection it deserves

and regardless of how many terms you serve

it will shed and it will bleed

so let it bend, let it breathe, just let it be.

Since my body, my temple

became a piece of legislation

it has protested every attempt to enslave it

and it will stop at nothing to stop the violence

it calls a ceasefire, a plea for peace

it calls for help and for relief, reprieve

it will not be silenced.

If my body held a sign

if my body itself could speak

it would chastise those who exploit and stigmatize

a woman’s insides, a woman’s insight

a woman’s inherent right

to give birth to new life

or to terminate when she feels it is right for her

not for you, not for me

it would not compromise to ease the tension

or give false power to your religion, blaspheme

it would not suffer by choice

in the name of freedom, in the name of God

or some illusive American dream.

It would not harm another soul

it would disarm, usurp control

and honor itself, your honor

it is time to give back what you stole.

My body is my temple

but under your laws it seems doomed

women forced to risk their lives

to abort, however viable, rape or not

the choice should be mine, not yours

nine months of my life

the rising cost of raising children

the fringe benefits of fostering the system

the abuse of silent witnesses

the battered by belligerence

the inability to adequately care

the substances that impair

those born infected, affected

lacking access to prenatal care

so they just consume.

If my body could speak, it would say

who do you think you are?

to fondle the folds of my flesh with your articles

to penetrate my right with the stroke of your pen

to procreate or terminate

to bring to term or masturbate

to bleed and shed and do it all over again.

My body is my temple

and when it’s laid to rest

it will not be buried under laws

that kept me from what I felt was best

it will not be from some unsanitary procedure

in some dark alley in black of night

it will not be from complications

because you made it shameful

to ask for help in broad daylight.

Your grotesque images plastered

to picket signs, forced into too-small hands

to make a point, doesn’t make it right

the point is this, my body is my temple

for me to love, to behold, in which to delight.

Added: Thursday, July 24, 2014  /  Momen's poem won First Place in the 2013 Abortion Rights Poetry Contest. Split This Rock is proud to co-sponsor this contest with the Abortion Care Network.
Rayna Momen
Photo by Emmett Fox

Rayna Momen is an unapologetically Black, trans, abolitionist, poet, and queer criminologist, born and raised in West Virginia. Their poems have been featured in several anthologies, blogs, chapbooks, journals, and podcasts, including Cold Creek Review, ImageOutWrite, One Persons's Trash, Skin to Skin, and Queer Families: An LGBTQ+ True Stories Anthology.

Other poems by this author