I’m halfway home to Bed-Stuy
when I feel the cervical cramp.
I was told they’d be getting worse
after I had it installed two years ago,
the little T pulled up by the arms
out of its soft white box, reflecting
into my own pale face like a flag
of surrender. I was told to count down
while the storm’s eye dilated to give passage,
the traveler supplied with five years
of levonorgestrel, the strings tentacular,
prodding my gummy depths, delivering the heartless
shockwave. The hormones began to release
on my way home to find him drunk, having thrown
a vase through the dive bar’s front doors, released
while he slept in the graveyard instead of coming home,
while he came home and threw eggs at the neighbor’s
window, while I drove him to rehab,
while we were waiting for a diagnosis,
while not looking good, while terminal,
while hospice, while winter’s flattening line.
O T, I’m not angry with you. You’re not
the dismantler. You’ve been watching out
for me, buying me time, nudging to remind
there’s still mercy left in the world. And now
I’m counting on you. You’re the last decision
he and I made together, the future now stillborn.
Be you Grappling Hook or Escape Rope,
may you be my Tool of Adventure again.
Fire Ladder, let me down easy. Oil Slick, set me free.
Madeleine Mori is a Japanese American poet, born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She earned a BS in winemaking from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and an MFA from New York University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in jubilat, DIAGRAM, The American Poetry Review, and The Yale Review, among other publications. Her work has received fellowships from the Community of Writers, the NYU Provost, and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, where she was a 2021 Margins Fellow. She is the poetry editor at Pigeon Pages and lives in Brooklyn.