With reproductive freedom under unprecedented attack, Choice Words, edited by poet Annie Finch, takes back the cultural conversation on abortion.
A landmark literary anthology of poems, stories, and essays, Choice Words collects essential voices that renew our courage in the struggle to defend reproductive rights. Twenty years in the making, the book spans continents and centuries. This collection magnifies the voices of people reclaiming the sole authorship of their abortion experiences. These essays, poems, and prose are a testament to the profound political power of defying shame.
Here we present a poem featured in Choice Words, by writer, educator, curator, and activist Mahogany L. Browne.
She quit every job she owned on a Friday
Left the shabby chairs and floor to squeal farewell
She's never been the kind to exit in a sentimental way
A poet, an exposed bone, a girl too fragile, a shaken empty well
To be a forgotten song in the throat of a corpse
To be a washed-up basin on the edge of an ocean's mouth
She crawls towards the sea, towards the sun for a morsel
She lives off the sandcastles blown away, a flimsy house
She wants riches of mangoes and dumplings pinched by brown hands
She wants what her hands can't carry, she wants what she should not
Sweet bread from her mother's kitchen and green crops from good land
The pelican, intersection death, beak w i d e with its flushed pink
Don't ask her what she does not know, don't ask her about marriage or
Ask her of the children buried, after a sweet medicine wrecked her
insides into order
Mahogany L. Browne, “Pelican.” Reprinted with the permission of the author.