Posted in Glit Lit, Politics

“Uterus Is Not a Dirty Word” and Other Body Politics (& Poetics)


blue=uterus=pretty

I “incorporated” my uterus today and it felt good. Somewhat weird for me, I admit, a non-incorporated independent cowgirl sort of poet—not a company woman or an entrepreneur, not a commodity specialist or even a worth-her-salt consumer. Still, my uterus is my own business now, I’ve got a certificate to prove it, and I owe it all to Susannah Randolph, the uncanny, and her husband Scott Randolph, the canny. Or vice versa. Either way, she’s got a uterus and he’s Florida’s Democratic House Representative from Orlando. (Don’t confuse him with debonair Randolph Scott, the actor, or with full-of-hot-air Rick Scott, the so-called Governor of Florida. Thanks.)

So: Susannah said to her husband Scott at dinner one night that if she would incorporate her uterus, maybe Republicans would drop the 18 anti-abortion measures they’re considering during the legislative session. I wish I knew what Scott and Susannah were having for dinner that night or if she’d just read my favorite poem by Lucille Clifton to Scott over mango salsa and chips, but This Is What Happened After That (very cool):


 

For my part, I thought you might like to look at what three poets have to say. Truth be told, poets have been incorporating our uteruses for years.


Wandering Uterus

By Leslie Adrienne Miller

Leonardo believed that semen came down
from the brain through a channel in the spine.

And that female lactation held its kick off
in the uterus. Not as bad as Hippocrates,

who thought the womb wandered the ruddy
crags of a woman’s body, wreaking a havoc

whenever it lodged, shoving aside
more sensible organs like the heart.

All manner of moral failings, snits,
and panics were thus explained, the wayward

organ floating like Cleopatra’s barge
down the murky canal of any appendage

or tying up at the bog of the throat.
One can’t help but imagine a little halved

walnut of a boat like that in Leonardo’s
drawing, the curled meat of the fetus

tucked inside, harboring near a naughty eye
or rebellious ear that never can hear

what a man might mean when he says yes
or
always. It’s all still beautifully true

what these good scientists alleged: the brain
is as good a place as any for the manufacture

of evanescence, and why not allow
that the round and sturdy skiff of the uterus

may float and flaunt its special appetite for novelty,
even if we dub it dumb, lined with tentacles,

many-chambered, and errant as the proverbial knight
seeking out adventure, but loyal to one queen.

(Originally published in The Kenyon Review, 2006)

 

Poem to my uterus

By Lucille Clifton

you uterus
you have been patient
as a sock
while i have slippered into you
my dead and living children
now
they want to cut you out
stocking i will not need
where i am going
where am i going
old girl
without you
uterus
my bloody print
my estrogen kitchen
my black bag of desire
where can i go
barefoot
without you
where can you go
without me

(From Quilting, BOA Editions, 2000)

 

In Celebration of My Uterus

By Anne Sexton

Everyone in me is a bird.

I am beating all my wings.

They wanted to cut you out

but they will not.

They said you were immeasurably empty

but you are not.

They said you were sick unto dying

but they were wrong.

You are singing like a school girl.

You are not torn.

 

Sweet weight,

in celebration of the woman I am

and of the soul of the woman I am

and of the central creature and its delight

I sing for you. I dare to live.

Hello, spirit. Hello, cup.

Fasten, cover. Cover that does contain.

Hello to the soil of the fields.

Welcome, roots.

 

Each cell has a life.

There is enough here to please a nation.

It is enough that the populace own these goods.

Any person, any commonwealth would say of it,

It is good this year that we may plant again

and think forward to a harvest.

A blight had been forecast and has been cast out.”

Many women are singing together of this:

one is in a shoe factory cursing the machine,

one is at the aquarium tending a seal,

one is dull at the wheel of her Ford,

one is at the toll gate collecting,

one is tying the cord of a calf in Arizona,

one is straddling a cello in Russia,

one is shifting pots on the stove in Egypt,

one is painting her bedroom walls moon color,

one is dying but remembering a breakfast,

one is stretching on her mat in Thailand,

one is wiping the ass of her child,

one is staring out the window of a train

in the middle of Wyoming and one is

anywhere and some are everywhere and all

seem to be singing, although some can not

sing a note.

 

Sweet weight,

in celebration of the woman I am

let me carry a ten-foot scarf,

let me drum for the nineteen-year-olds,

let me carry bowls for the offering

(if that is my part).

Let me study the cardiovascular tissue,

let me examine the angular distance of meteors,

let me suck on the stems of flowers

(if that is my part).

Let me make certain tribal figures

(if that is my part).

For this thing the body needs

let me sing

for the supper,

for the kissing,

for the correct

yes.

 

From The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981).

 

More Political Stuff:

Susannah Randolph’s website: www.pinksliprick.com

Scott Randolph’s petition: http://signon.org/sign/uterus-is-not-a-dirty

More background:

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/04/06/v-fullstory/2154351/from-the-florida-house-to-national.html#ixzz1JG0opMPH

and http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/04/10/2157896/anti-abortion-legislation-goes.html

How to incorporate your uterus: http://www.incorporatemyuterus.com/

 

Maureen Seaton, 4/11/11

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