“Planning” by Gemma Mathewson

Gemma Mathewson


With deliberate determination not
to become a statistical casualty
of the epidemic,
specifically in my college dorm
and pandemically elsewhere,
of coming down
with pregnancy, thereby
precipitating a clandestine
retreat to legal new jersey,
when the very first opportunity
presented himself
with the impressive triple
credentials of playing
acoustic guitar, riding
a motorcycle and expressing
an interest, I dragged him
to Planned Parenthood
with me, my naive neo-feminist
reasoning being that we were
in this together.

Splayed on the steel table
my meticulous caution
was delicately disclosed:
“No, this wont fit,”
the Heath Care Professional
advised his assistant,
“We need a child sized
speculum here.”
“Bring us a CHILD SIZED speculum!”
reverberated down
the hall in rock concert decibels.
I wished never to leave
that room, but worse, discarding
the paper gown sticky with
lubricating gel, I followed
the Health Care Professional
to his dingy office, where he
instructively deconstructed
a luridly tinted transparent
female model torso which
snapped back together with
a wobbly loose imprecision
foretelling the aftermath
of my first C-section
years later.

He employed a #2 pencil as a pointer
to demonstrate the alternative
of masturbation, at which,
to the soundtrack of early
Beatles albums, I had become
sufficiently proficient years earlier.
Didn’t he SEE the guy slouched
in the waiting room sweating
inside his leather jacket?

For a sliding scale donation reflecting
my student status,
I returned to the waiting room
armored with a coy hot pink
plastic case of tiny potent pills,
foil backed and doggedly counted out,
(even the last 5 placebo days).
Keeping nominal vigil,
myopically semi-focused on
a blaring Gilligan’s Island rerun
(Perky Mary Ann in her tight
cutoff jeans, and pigtails and
Starlet Ginger in her slinky
evening gown and bouffant hairdo.)
my boyfriend responded, “Huh?”
No, he hadn’t heard anyone
shouting anything down the hall.

from Rattle #33, Summer 2010
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