An Estonian hospital, June 2017
The doctor motioned to sit, turned a chair
to face the monitor. A perfectly lovely office.
Natural light from the barren window
gathered in circles around my feet.
These are pictures she said, and I knew
there was nothing emotional there for her.
Only facts. I’ve collected over the years
interesting cases of fetal abortion.
The folder clicked open and hatched
into my memory, unshelled itself awake.
Anencephaly, no brain she pointed
as a tiny red face appeared, almost
small enough to never have been.
Early trisomy 21. My eyes followed lines
across wrinkled, chokecherry palms.
This teaching moment deformed
into an unwelcome sideshow, every
morbid act more crimson than the last.
And this baby would have been born
without a hand. I stopped and clenched
my own. Life without would still be
life, would still be an abundance. The
delicate nub lay limp beside a ruler.
I faced away. A perfectly lovely wrist.
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