AN ABECEDARIAN FOR THE UNMENTIONABLE
About the time I turned 20
babies began looking cute. When my future looks empty, I imagine someday
cuddling my own baby to my chest and feeling her new and tiny heartbeat
drum against mine. So much possibility and hope in
eight pounds. For a minute the world shrinks. I
forget that life is complicated and sometimes bleak. The earth rotates at 23.5 degrees, and the heaviness of my heart sometimes makes it tilt a little more, but my baby in my arms
giggles, and there is nothing more pressing than letting her wrap her fingers around my thumb.
I mumble in a language she does not yet understand. And
just how much beauty is in that? In the naivety of not yet knowing. In all the peacefulness of not yet
knowing all that there is to know and fear and cry about. There is something grimly optimistic about holding my baby.
Like she is the answer to the great search of my life. And maybe, despite all the ways I have messed up and all the ways I still can, I created something more than myself.
My friends and I used to complain about our periods. Hoping to get out of gym class, and lie in the
nurse’s office. The blood between our thighs
our burden and excuse. But about the time I turned 20, I felt comfort in my
period, and I
quit hating my body, grateful for the width of my hips, that gateway to hope and reason. Life is scary, and I am not good at much, but I know how to love, and I could
raise what the world might need. What I need. But life is also cruel,
so when my blood spills down my legs and pools at my ankles, understand that it is mocking me.
That it is heavy and thick and sometimes does not come for three months. That it is the result of a war happening in my
uterus between the future I want versus the future I get. A
virgin got pregnant and gave birth to a healthy baby boy in a dirty stable and someone please tell me
why is giving birth referred to as “The Miracle of Life” when it seems every other
XY chromosome sculpted by God to create life can do that like it is ordinary. Even by accident. The Miracle should be me:
young but defective. A walking contradiction. I miss being 20 and ignorant. Now, since the thought of my future no longer fills me with that hope, I like to pretend that in another dimension I am more
Zen than this. That I walk around with my eight-pound-baby girl, and my world is shrunk to her size, and everything is okay. And the future I want wants me back.
—from Rattle #64, Summer 2019
Morgan Kovacs: “When presented with the question, ‘Why do you write poetry?’ I feel stumped. Honestly, I never chose to write poetry, and I certainly never declared any wild desire to become a poet. Yet here I am because writing is not so much a choice, but rather an obligation. ‘An Abecedarian for the Unmentionable’ in particular represents that obligation I feel. This poem opens dialogue through its rawness and honesty. Being vulnerable in this world is difficult, but that is the very aim of my poetry. I dare to mention the unmentionable.”