The bones cry out
Poetic words can’t hide the ugly truth about abortion
During the 2020 March for Life, I looked back on Constitution Avenue, saw tens of thousands of pro-life advocates, and thought of the opening and closing stanzas of a great hymn: “For all the saints who from their labors rest, / Who thee by faith before the world confessed … / From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast, / Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host.”
Sometimes I think the success or failure of the pro-life movement depends on marchers, lawyers, and pregnancy center counselors, heroes battling long odds. Yet then I remember the Apostle Luke’s reporting on the first Palm Sunday nearly 2,000 years ago. As Jesus rides into Jerusalem, Pharisees complain that His disciples are over-the-top enthusiastic, but Jesus responds: If they were silent, “the very stones would cry out.”
What if government and media leaders found a way to silence pro-lifers? Would opposition to abortion end? I think not. Mothers know what is growing inside them. The truth also gnaws at abortion-supporting poets. That’s what I saw in Choice Words: Writers on Abortion, edited by Annie Finch (Haymarket Books, 2020). Its publicists praise “a landmark literary anthology of poems, stories, and essays” that will “renew our courage in the struggle to defend reproductive rights.”
Maybe so, but the very bones cry out. In an unwilling testament to the sanctity of human life, so do at least 20 of the 150 authors in Finch’s compendium, although almost all seem committed to a pro-abortion (or at least pro-choice) position. So is Poetry Witch Community founding director Finch, a feminist Yale graduate who had an abortion in 1999 and writes about “abortion as an act of love,” but loves poetry enough to include verses that show how abortion sometimes leads to self-hatred and is always tragic.
For example, Gwendolyn Brooks, the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for poetry, wrote in 1945: “Abortions will not let you forget. / You remember the children you got that you did not get, / The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair, / The singers and workers that never handled the air. … / You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh, / Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye. / I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed children. … / If I stole your births and your names, / Your straight baby tears and your games.”
Choice Words shows that guilt is worldwide. Pratibha Kelapure wrote that “blood, hope, and the whisper of a life flowed away,” leaving “the elephant of guilt on your shoulder until / Your heart is buried too deep to pulse with life.” Iranian poet Farideh Hassanzadeh-Mostafavi wrote, “Since your death / in the eyes of all flowers / I am nothing but the wind / with the bloody hands.”
Choice Words also shows how abortion hardens some. Leyla Josephine of Glasgow offers a lovely musing at the beginning of her poem, “I think she was a she,” but concludes with militance: “I will not be tamed. / I have determination that this termination will still have a form of creation. / It will not be wasted. / This is my body. This is my body. This is my body. / I don’t care about your ignorant views.”
Deborah Maia’s “Self-Ritual for Invoking Release of Spirit Life in the Womb” espouses a deadly anti-Christian religion: “During ritual today, I sat naked in the midst of a circle of red silk, red wool, garnet, and red coral. I drummed and chanted to Mother Earth.” Then, “I walk outside. … When I look inside my pants, my eyes meet with a loose formed clot of bright red. / I feel uplifted to a peak of elation. / I offer gratitude / to my Body for strength. / I offer gratitude / to my Intuition for guidance.”
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