My List of True Facts

Erika Meitner
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I am 43 and I just drove to CVS at 9:30 p.m. on a Sunday
to buy a store-brand pregnancy test two sticks in a box
rung up by a clerk who looked like the human embodiment
of a Ken doll with his coiffed blond hair and red smock
even though I wished there was a tired older woman
at the register this once even though I am sure I am
not pregnant this missing my period is almost definitely
another trick of perimenopause along with the inexplicable
rage at all humans the insane sex drive and the blood that
when it comes overwhelms everything with two sons
already what would I do with a baby now even though
I spent four long years trying to have another I am done
have given away all the small clothes and plastic devices
that make noise just looking at toddlers leaves me exhausted
this would be a particularly cruel trick of nature the CVS
was empty there was no one in cosmetics or any aisle including
family planning which is mostly lube and condoms I didn’t
know Naturalamb was a thing “real skin-to-skin intimacy”
there’s just one small half of one shelf of pregnancy tests
and some say no/yes in case you don’t think you can read
blue or pink lines appearing in a circle my grandmother
was a nurse-midwife during the war in the Sosnowiec ghetto
her brother ten years younger a change-of-life child she called him
when she told me finally she had a brother when the archivists
came around for her testimony years after her brother was gassed
alongside her mother in Auschwitz years after my grandmother
euthanized her own daughter whom I was named for because
the SS were tossing babies from the windows of cattle cars
change-of-life child the name for a baby born to an older mother
past forty I peed on so many sticks over so many years
gave myself scores of injections took pills went under anesthesia
and knives since there’s an unspoken mandate to procreate
when all your people your family were actually slaughtered
I gave one son my grandmother’s brother’s name and
the other was called King Myson by his birth mother
on the page of notes we got that she filled out before she
gave him up it took me an hour of staring at the form
before I realized it was my son she was claiming him
before she let him go and I think the morning will bring
nothing just one blue line but right now it is still night
and I am sitting in my car under the parking lot lights
which are bright and static like me and beyond them
there’s the clerk in the red smock locking the doors 

This poem is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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