a womb of one's own
When I think “pent up,” I think of the flaps of a cardboard box
Restrained by tape, bursting open sudden and unprovoked,
Small explosion of no consequence
To the sound of scratching shuffling paper, nothing destroyed,
Small repressed thing full of air.
Pent up. That is what he explains to me that I am,
Salt-and-pepper-haired man, his
Mirthful, mercurial eyes behind gold frames
And the beard of Pan. I feel the callused heel of his hand
As he shakes mine. His framed degree means nothing to me.
An engineer, a plumber of the psyche—
But his toolbox consists of a tangle of wires,
Button-controlled white microphones and pink curling irons.
I am Woolf and Perkins-Gilman, Plath and Sexton,
I am a sexed up, sexless time traveleress.
My condition is hysteria and my womb is an asylum,
This room is my salvation,
Its yellow wallpaper peeling away like the bark of a river birch
And when I am floating,
I see none of it; borders melt away into dissolute Arcadia.
When I gasp awake in the middle of the night with the irrepressible tingle
—I mean, stark raving hysterical,
It’s just a light breeze in pent-up places. Even inmates get the urge; it’s human nature, isn’t it?
And they expect us to hump our own straitjackets.
Hubby next to me snores shallowly,
His glib lips open innocent, gelled remnants of his hair still slicked back
Exhausted from his day of paperwork and greenbacks
And we are both caricatures, me in my floral nightdress,
He in his flannels and we two with slippers by the bedside.
In the morning I will arrange the coffee tray
With sugar as he likes it,
He will rub my belly and wonder what boils within.
The silver percolator glints at me,
Glints with something like freedom.
But I am slyer and less forgiving even than coffee
In your empty stomach during an important business meeting;
In this room, I am heading towards the white light
Like a patient in surgery
Vibrating under the knife
Rivulets spread beneath me
My body waxes and wanes like a moon
My body ebbs and flows
The folds of my clothing expand as I contract
Something inside me is doing backflips
A kingdom is overthrown
My womb is an oven ripe for baking, my womb is an asylum
Such tasks as trophy-wiving and childbearing aren’t important to me…
I want to carry this orgasm to term
I want to be the bust of a nymph on the ship that carries its load
I want to birth something beautiful and temporary:
A tiny earthquake, God’s gift to woman.
Pan’s hair is slicked back like my husband’s,
And beneath it his face of smug concern
Is the first thing I see when I wake like a woman from the ether;
I come into being like one comatose or risen from the dead,
Or this is the stereotype, woman with new eyes,
And everything has a glassy sheen.
I return home to lie in a faint on my couch.
Hubby places his arms platonically around my shoulders;
He says I am a bundle of nerves,
But I know the potential a small bundle of nerves