Stacie McCall Whitaker - Stone Coast, Maine

Before It Was Legal

Under a sky like curdled milk in a blue bowl

my childless friend of forty years confesses to a 1958 abortion.


One hundred, to an elderly Haitian woman who laid her

hips on a rough, grayed towel, spread her knees apart


to stuff a narrow rubber hose cut from an enema bag

and stiffened with a copper strip up into her womb,


packed the cavity with wads of cotton, all tied together

by a string like a tampon. “Tomorrow, pull the string


and everything will come out.” Three bright drops of blood

on the towel, the color of induced labor hours later.


The wall of her womb pierced. Peritonitis. Penicillin.

Police. But she was free of that unwanted child


or any child she could never have now. Her nipples oozed

droplets of sour milk, staining her bras for weeks after.

About the Author

Sarah Brown Weitzman, a past National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in Poetry and Pushcart Prize nominee, has been published in hundreds of journals and anthologies, including Rosebud, New Ohio Review, Poet & Critic, North American Review, Bellingham Review, Rattle, Mid-American Review, The MacGuffin, Poet Lore, Spillway, and Miramar. A departure from poetry, her fourth book, Herman and the Ice Witch, is a children’s novel published by Main Street Rag.