“Plan B” by Christina Shideler

Reading by the author

They’re all pregnant. Every last one with a womb is full up no vacancy sorry Jesus. Every last first best friend, all the same-haired girls whose manes swayed in invisible classroom breezes, and each barely tolerated friend’s girlfriend has a belly full of baby. Every strange girl with whom you shared a meaningful, fleeting glance on the subway, making you wonder if you missed some cue of fate is now too busy sitting in a proffered seat and staring at her growing belly to share her portion of destiny with you. Girls you met in hostels and only liked because you both spoke English and Lonely and even that old bitch that called you a tart is swollen with some seed waiting to become a son of a bitch, popping out all red and angry like they didn’t ask for this, nobody did.

Their taut and realized bodies stride with purpose into your vision screaming in Pregnant how hopeful they are for the future their brood will make and you want some kind of bump blindness so that you do not constantly feel how broken is your body, how unwelcome for serving its design, how inconceivable is conception when illness never ends. I want to feel so whole that I could break a piece of myself off onto the earth and feel certain of its good. I want to feel so certain that countless tomorrows will have room for more than survival. I want to feel that the human math adds up, that I can give and give and give. The girls are ready. Their water is breaking and the glaciers are melting. Grab your swimsuit and jump right in, it’s positively teeming.

Christina Shideler received her M.F.A. from The New School, where she was an assistant poetry editor at LIT. She is currently the poetry editor at the VIDA Review. Her work has appeared in DIAGRAM and Painted Bride Quarterly, among other places.

Image: “Bedroom Schuyler Mansion c 1930” from New York State Archives

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