“Unborn” by Jessica Barlevi

Jessica Barlevi


The bright light, the feeling of slow motion,
the bare walls, the hospital gown undone,
the bleached sheets waiting, the next abortion,
beyond a window, the hard valley sun.
They entered, wheeled in what looked like a tank,
with tubes and hoses, the long dragging cord—
limbs thrashed, a needle, then the world was blank.
Child of mine, it’s time, take up your sword—
Today, I looked my daughter in the eye,
admired the summer on my son’s skin.
Then, alone, opened the windows, and cried.
All this, perhaps, is what you could have been.
Does it matter that I was sixteen, on meth?
Do you, reader, feel your own sacred breath?

from Rattle #75, Spring 2022


Jessica Barlevi: “I write poetry because Emily Dickinson saved me. I was in an unhealthy marriage, home with three young children, and I was depressed. I used to write out lines of Dickinson’s poems on sticky notes and post them around the house. I looked at them every day, many times a day. Poetry is what got me through each day. I hope one day my poetry can save someone.” (web)

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