“On Aesthetic Injury” by Bridget Kriner

Bridget Kriner


“It does not follow that acorns are oak trees,
or that we had better say they are.”
—Judith Jarvis Thomson

Every wildlife adventurer understands the lure
of spotting a rare creature in its natural habitat.
Like when you’re in an airboat, skimming over
the swamp & you yearn to feed marshmallows
to gators, watch their jaws open & snap as they swim
right up to the boat, glimpse their armored bodies
sunning on logs among blooming swamp irises.
Or when you’re hang gliding over the Grand Canyon,
suspended by nothing more than a thin, flexible wing,
you count on looking down on bighorn sheep & bison
roaming as you circle overhead. Or in an open-air 4×4,
driving through the heart of a game reserve, you reckon
you’ll be among lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards.
Or when you snorkel out in the night, it is expressly
to swim with giant wild manta rays, to come within inches
of their grand wingspan. But if it just isn’t in the cards,
for you to behold any of them, despite all of your concrete
hopes & calculations? What a bitter pill that would be.

from Poets Respond
August 20, 2023


Bridget Kriner: “This poem is written in response to the recent court decision regarding mifepristone, where federal appeals court Judge James Ho argued that doctors suffer aesthetic injury when they are deprived of the experience of seeing their ‘unborn’ patients. He wrote, ‘Unborn babies are a source of profound joy for those who view them. Expectant parents eagerly share ultrasound photos with loved ones. Friends and family cheer at the sight of an unborn child. Doctors delight in working with their unborn patients—and experience an aesthetic injury when they are aborted.’ In making this argument, Ho used case law that has only previously been applied in environmental or animal rights cases.”

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