“Paragard” by Ruth Madievsky

Ruth Madievsky


I was in a lecture hall, explaining how the copper IUD works,
talking about how metal ions
change the intrauterine environment, making sperm
swim all gimpy like they’ve had
too many drinks. I was trying not to notice
the dark shoving my head
in a toilet, the way three months earlier
it cannonballed into my grandmother’s CT scan.
It hid within her kidney like the plastic
baby inside a King Cake,
and then it was nothing like a King Cake
once we found it in her lungs, liver, and bones.
I was using words
like cervical mucus and nulliparous.
I was thinking about the body
and its mousetraps.
How the copper IUD
does to fertilized eggs what the body should
but doesn’t do to tumors,
which is to say, prevents them,
either from forming or implanting—no one knows exactly
how it works, but it does. I want to
believe in the elegance
of chemicals
and the elegance of the person
mixing the chemicals,
but I know there’s only so much dark
you can pass
like a kidney stone. Medicine
can’t promise us anything, can only
paddle from one buoy
to another, maybe
harpooning the shark or being eaten by the shark
or shooting cannons at swimmers
and becoming a bigger problem
than the shark.

from Rattle #52, Summer 2016
Tribute to Angelenos


Ruth Madievsky: “Though I was born outside the U.S., in Moldova, I’ve lived in Los Angeles for most of my life. To be a Los Angeles poet is to negotiate the city’s many contradictions: the lively literary scene and the flawed public transit system that makes it difficult to access; the glamour and extreme poverty that are often just around the corner from each other; the lights and skyscrapers, their beauty and ugliness. The particular imagery of Los Angeles is always making its way into my poems. I love living in this city and being a poet in it.” (website)

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