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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