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Helen Koukoutsis

3am

Hot, angry clots
tremble through
crimson loins:
you've just expelled
a lentil. Contractions
suggest otherwise.
Blood and lining
anchor on
to the early hours
of the morning;
life,
death,
84 heartbeats –
the outcome
was settled before
conception. There's
nothing you can do
crumpled over
a bloated belly,
ass suspended
like a drawbridge.

You plan
to do it right,
next time:
eat right
sleep right
walk right,
like the Buddha.
You promise to guard
your mind against
negative thoughts:
a 37 year old uterus
(vessel of fibroids,
cysts, and polyps);
food intolerances
that never existed
as a kid. You
vow to avoid the
internet, random
superstitions, and
social beliefs of the
kind that assume
all women dive
naturally
into motherhood.
Most of all, you promise
never to write
about this
because inside
the bowl of waste
and water
an embryo has fallen
like a sparrow
from its nest; it will
never know sound,
sight
taste,
its own bitter
demise;
it will never know
how to spell
this moment,
or offer
a comforting voice
when you look back
and see this –
another one
of your losses.


Helen Koukoutsis resides in Sydney, Australia and teaches literature at the University of Western Sydney. Her poems have appeared both online and in print in Australian journals. In her current research endeavors, she is examining Emily Dickinson's poetry in the light of nineteenth century Buddhism. Her article on Dickinson's encounter with Victorian-American Buddhism was recently published by The Researcher at Jackson State University.