Judy Kaber

Abortion As Untranslated Loss

Not a breeze in my life but something
solid, cumbersome, and I don’t remember
when I first knew you were there. You’re like
a gray window with a dreary view, a wheel

that never learned to turn. You were a part of me,
as much attached as my teeth, except deep inside,
in the red landscape of my womb. Maybe
you could have become a person, someone

who slipped between clean sheets, who cooked
winter squash with sage, decided when it was time
to open the windows, let in the smell of milkweed. Except
I chose to snip all that, to clip your bud, to empty

and bleed again. What I recall from the doctor’s office—
the ivy by the window, the picture on the wall of a boat, sails
full of wind, but still—bow never moving into the next wave,
the next swell of ocean. What I felt at the time

was just exhaustion, the way the world seethed around me,
how hard it was to breathe, to see—as if I’d stared into
an eclipse and the world became unspeakable light
and that’s all I could ever see, the yellow of the sun

lodged in my retinas. I never did hear your heart, because
you had none. You were only a cluster of cells that made
my stomach roil, that threatened to pull me into a gray world
where we had little to eat and not enough love. The fact is

I couldn’t bring myself to love you. That’s a crime now,
but it wasn’t then. It was a decision I made to leave you behind,
to turn the page and give myself permission to grow
beyond the heat of the moment, beyond sin, into redemption.