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Fertility Injections in the Handicapped Bathroom of Esalen Lodge

I stand in the bathroom, needle poised,

hip frozen with pressure from

the leaking blue pack, its chemical ooze

colder than ice, hormonal sap

about to slide in deep by my own hand

into the bruised cushion of my skin.

I can barely reach, my spine

twists around to the back of the hip

where the bruises from yesterday,

from the day before and before, speckle

the width of the lumpy apple of flesh

flecked and pale, the underwear

pulled out of the way for the

plunge. Someone rattles the door.

After dinner and coffee,

napkin specked with crumbs of

vegan chocolate cake, I had waded through

the watery swamp of the kitchen,

its mop-water floating with

specks of onion peel, cabbage rind,

bread crumbs and omelette crust,

like remnants of a civilization

like lumps in bright orange vomit.

I’d climbed past cold sliced artichokes

and cottage cheese in trays, opened

the vault of the freezer where the sign

says, “Think of your pillow. Slam

Hard.” With my full force

I pulled the closed legs of the door open wide.

I curled into the chill of frozen air, my skin a chicken

preserving for the fry, and I had taken

the icy blue plastic like an explorer

stealing an arctic treasure.

Now by the toilet I press

the one inch 21 gauge diagonal-

tapering point into my skin—it punctures

the surface with an elastic sproing.

Leaning on the other leg

to loosen the muscle, I expect to feel

its penetrating point, but I feel nothing, nothing

but numb coldness of skin, glacial

expanse of elastin lump of myself

on one leg in the bathroom, diners

outside laughing, holding hands,

squeaking their benches in pleasure.

I pull up the plunger with twisted fingers of one hand

to check for the blood rush. I am twisted at

an angle we rarely see ourselves,

like a bride alone with a single mirror

trying to see if her back looks fat

in the scooping open silk of

a plunging neckline. I press

the plastic tip in slowly until it stops; oily liquid

enters oily body. Inside

and outside no longer hold clear, and I

remember the writer who tells of the skin

against skin as first proof of the

limits of self, but for me, I meet

my edges through metal and green

plastic lined with milliliter markings,

measuring my solitude in the locked

box of this bathroom. And I pull

the needle out again—flesh clings to it for a

moment, not wanting to let go, like a tongue

to an ice cream cone—leaving

the philosophical realm, holding the hole

shut with a swab of alcohol. Pants at my knees,

I hop, dance and quiver,

so the bruise will be smaller,

they say, as I have done every night

for these weeks since I learned

I would do anything, jump up and down

with my pants unzipped and falling,

an Afro-Brazilian incantation of stomping,

as the medicine seeps and spreads,

reaching toward the place where you are,

anything at all to help bring you

here to this world

so you can touch

your own hand, so you can hit

your pillow, hold to my spine

and my hip, climb glaciers,

vomit, and love.


Miryam Sas is a writer and professor of comparative literature and film & media at UC Berkeley. Poetry.

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