Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
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Editor’s note: This piece contains references to sexual violence.

Choice confounds a control
Whose jurisdiction knows no bounds

Her body, survivor
His body, aggressor
Their four barely-there bodies
Casualties of a war
In which they never enlisted

Constituents and Constitution
Under one wretched roof

He violently defended
His right to bear a squadron
From which he quickly went AWOL
But she marched on,
Outfitted in little more than
The muddied uniform of a soldier
Desperate to protect
Those two innocent civilians

He paid the bills
She paid in bed,
Under which she kept hidden
The daintiest of weapons

Sugary sweet was the daily secrecy
Of her tiny ammunition,
But bitter was its discovery
And her womb wept red (but not white and blue)
Mourning its stolen peace
Until her blood-stained battlefield
Begged for a cease-fire
And she resolved to burn the ship —

For what man can conquer
What no longer remains?

Self-deployed for the very first time
Her heart raced as her vehicle neared
The hospital, her refuge
The scalpel, her liberator
The surgeons, her sympathizers:
Armed with understanding,
United by alphanumeric code…

A document he would never interpret
And a barren territory, sacrificed,
In the name of freedom

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling against the precedent set by Roe v. Wade in the summer of 2022, women’s reproductive recourse became, once more, a tenuous topic with the majority of legislative oversight in the hands of the opposite sex. My piece “G6P1142” takes readers on a journey alongside a woman in the post-Roe v. Wade era who, no longer armed with the legal protection of safe, elective pregnancy termination once upheld by the federal statute, seeks control of her reproductive potential first by secretly taking birth control without her sexually abusive, biologically-related but non-parenting husband’s knowledge. Then, when he discovers these pills, our protagonist decisively gets a hysterectomy without his knowledge (he can’t and won’t interpret medical knowledge because, not unlike the legislators who overturned the ruling, he does not have much desire for nor grasp of medical literature and physiological principles). By removing the vehicle of pregnancy (the uterus), she “burns the ships / for what man can conquer / what no longer remains.” 

Poetry Thursdays is an initiative that highlights poems by medical students. If you are interested in contributing or would like to learn more, please contact our editors.

Maia Young (2 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine

Maia Young is a third year medical student at Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, who is spellbound by the intimacy, mechanisms, and excitement within the field of anesthesiology. She envisions a career translating her medical skills to settings across resource spectra and national borders. In the meantime, she listens closely, shares generously, communicates creatively, and loves deeply.