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By Abby Minor

1.                                                                           [July 2013        Millheim, Pennsylvania]

This is how you miscarry on purpose, with pills:

                                           this is how you eat a sack of tattered peonies.

With stippled petals in your mouth, this is how
you set the little sunset-

colored bottle by the bed, orange plastic bright
              as halo-stains.

This is how you iron and tear a man’s

                              white cotton t-shirt into strips. These are the instructions

in a stack. Here, these are the peonies, mottled open. This is the number to call

if passing blood clots
larger than a lemon.


2.                                                                     [March 2014       Columbia Falls, Montana]
This is how you choose an axe.

This is how for weeks you watch your shadow
                like a piece of sour silk, a grainy wing. This is how you drink.

                This is how the Flathead Valley’s clouds run rootless
                             in the spring, cressets flash between the grasses, snow

and fire in the waters of the lake. This is how you dream

another river, flicker in the cedars. Whitefish, Salish, Stillwater, Swan.

                With a river kicking in your teeth, this is how you toss

a match, watch your shadow burn.


3.                                                                            [July 2013    Harrisburg, Pennsylvania]

This is how, to get the pills, you leave
at dawn. This is how the nation prickles

in your palms—edgy as a bag in brambles, drift
                               and kick, an empty rattle

in the weeds. This is how you find the building by the Susquehanna.

               This is how you memorize the other women’s faces.

This is how your sweetheart waits, how they call you in
and send you out again, how you travel

                             home, orange bottle

                and a blue glove tucked inside your purse. 


4.                                                                                       [March 2014   Kalispell, Montana]

This is how you find out where the doctor works.

This is how you go, woodsman, into the dusk, hunting fuel

for what fire, against what cold? Closely,

                                                            how the horses
down on Wildhorse Island sleep in snow, in their own language,

                                              on camus roots, on cliffs.


This is how you spread a sheet in shaking sun,—

                             This is how you smash the backdoor’s glass at night;

this is how you eat a river, how
you push the pills inside and wait, how
you dream fluently in peonies of fire, how

                you hammer-claw the faces out in photographs, scatter
files, amber everything with iodine. This is how

you start to bleed, how you
                                hatchet plumbing, make the water heater

moan. This is how you soak the cotton strips.

              This is how the furnace gives, how tables split, how you hew
the ultrasound machine and pull the potted jade

up by its roots. This is how they find you, a wilted wing, womb
               still clenching like a tired fist, pistol
               in your pocket. A line of your own blood

                             drawn across your palm. This is what you tell them:

This is how I name myself: this is how
I talk to God.

Added: Monday, May 2, 2016  /  Abby Minor's poem was awarded first place in the 2016 Abortion Rights Poetry Contest, co-sponsored by the in the Abortion Care Network and Split This Rock. We thank the special guest judge, Sonya Renee Taylor, for her generosity and discernment.
Abby Minor

Abby Minor, a poet and community art teacher, instigates readings, gatherings, and conversations that deal with issues of justice and reproductive freedom in northern Appalachia.

Other poems by this author