Diaries of a Lost Pregnancy – Amanda E.K.

 

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Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🎞

 

Diaries of a Lost Pregnancy

5.18.17

Yes, Doctor, I will take a pregnancy test. I’ve been nauseous since last Thursday.

I’m in pain. I’m three days late.

5.24.17

Pelvic ultrasound to try and figure out this pain. Still haven’t heard back from the doctor.

5.30.17

I bought a stick on my way home from work. Called doctor again and they still won’t release my results. This all feels a bit dystopian and surreal.

A little too Twin Peaks: The Return.

My pain is invalidated by the people who can help me.

I’ve been nauseous and I’m never nauseous and my boobs hurt as though gripped in a vice.

Oh kill this thing inside me if it does indeed exist! 

Drinking wine and eating Twinkies that I bought along with the store brand stick. 

My husband is out of the country. I’m scared and alone.

5.31.17 

6:30 am: 

The test is positive

11:59 pm:

I wonder if it would be a boy or a girl. I stretch my face in the mirror, imagining the combination of our features. Not that I want it. It’s only thought-play.

I don’t go to bed. I go for a walk after dark, to Observatory Park, walking in shadows, spinning on playground spinners, stumbling up a tree, swinging as high as I can go for as long as Radiohead’s “Ful Stop” plays on headphones.

I need to be higher, or lower, and since I don’t have any digging tools, up I go.

Sometimes the traffic outside my window sounds like music.

I scheduled an abortion outside an elementary school.

6.1.17

Started miscarrying during my preschool students’ graduation.

Started crying in front of the families, saying how much their children have meant to me. Several moms teared up and gave me hugs. 

My student Mariah asked me: Ms. Amanda, why are you crying? Me: I have a tummy ache. 

Crying after coming back from the bathroom, finding blood, not knowing what was happening to my body, my co-teacher asking if I’m okay and I shake my head, dissolve into tears.

I translated a message into Arabic for Elyas’s mom about how he’s been one of my favorite students and I’ll miss him. She teared up and hugged me and I felt such love for her. Translated a message into Spanish for Ricardo’s mom. I will miss the daily diversity of being a classroom teacher.

I will miss my beautiful little family.


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Amanda E.K. is the editor-in-chief of Denver’s Suspect Press. She’s also a writing instructor and a longstanding member of the Knife Brothers writing group. Her work has been featured on the Denver Orbit podcast and on Mortified Live. She has work in Suspect Press, Birdy, Jersey Devil Press, the 2018 Punch Drunk Press Poetry anthology, and Green Briar Review. She’s currently working on a memoir about her sexual development while growing up in evangelical purity culture, and she is co-writing a television series. FB: /AmandaEK  Twitter: @AmandaEKwriter  Insta: @amanda.ek.writer

Preheat – Shoshana Lovett-Graff

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Photo: Isaac Quesada

When I was five years old, I said to my mother, I want to be a frittata when I grow up.

No. she said. No, no baby. You can’t be a frittata. Why not? I asked. I love frittatas. I love cracking eggs, I love shredded cheese, and I love the little green bits that you mix into the bowl. Why can’t I be a frittata? Because you’re a Jew, baby. Jews can’t go in the oven, not ever again. Not a toaster oven? No. Not an easy bake oven? No. You can never think about being a frittata, nor write about being a frittata. If you dream about being a frittata, you must wake up and make yourself have new dreams. As Jews, we don’t use the oven. We don’t think about the oven. We can’t look at the oven. The oven is locked in a box, buried underground, and guarded by a man who swallowed the keys nearly a century ago. Those keys are never coming out. My mother put her arm around me and said, Just remember baby. The oven is buried so deep, no one can touch it again. You’ll never become a frittata.

I forgot about wanting to become a frittata. I thought about lots of things I could become instead. I was afraid of the oven, and I did not go near one for many years.

One day, I sat in my office and read that a man in a uniform rammed his truck into a protester’s leg and broke it. Before I could read it again, it was gone, his internal bleeding replaced with clickbait articles, the ambulance ride overridden by ten facts about a topic I could not remember. Four other protestors hit by the truck. An ad for a jacket to cover myself. Pepper spray to their eyes. An op-ed with comments that burned. The man’s uniform said: I-C-E. The protestor’s sign said: Never Again Para Nadie.

I opened my mouth, perched on the ledge of something I wanted to say. Before I could speak, eggs began pouring out. The yolk, wet and warm, dribbled down my lips. I collected them in my lap, and sat, waiting. I wanted an opening to grow in my computer screen, a hot gap I could crawl into. It just had to be large enough that someone else could climb into my body, sit swaying in my office chair, and I could become a frittata.

With each egg from my lips, I thought about a book I saw at my boyfriend’s house called Eggs and Cheese. It showed all the ways you could make eggs and cheese. An omelette, a souffle, a quiche, or a frittata.

My boyfriend did not have a book called Protesters and Cars, which showed all the ways protesters and cars could interact. A protester could ride in a car to a protest, or convince a car to honk in support. You could also hit a protester with a car, stop, then pump the gas pedal and drive through a line of protesters sitting cross-legged on the ground. These are all recipes in a book that has not yet been written.

There is no recipe for a protest. Just like my grandmother said, It’s all guesswork to decide which spices get simmered into the dish midway through. I have never read instructions about who gets to lock eyes with a Rhode Island license plate drawing close and fast.

My computer screen finally cracked open, and I found my grandmother sitting there like a settled stack of dishes. She said, Look up, there you are. She said,

If you want to use the oven then by the grace of God, use it. She said,

Before the existence of ovens, someone baked on hot stones outside and before there were hot stones, there was the sun on your back. She said,

When I bake, I don’t think about Jews and eggs and whether you’re allowed to crack open the ground and dig up boxes with keys in men’s stomachs. She said,

It runs down the back of your neck and trickles down your spine into new generations, then it spreads and sprouts on untouched ground. She said,

Your grandfather only eats cold cereal with milk because he is afraid of the oven. She said,

Breakfast is just news left unopened. She said, If you crawl in here with me you will find out that hiding from the oven is the same as hiding in the oven. The oven is made to be used.

I sat spitting eggs for three more hours, then I turned off my computer and made myself a frittata in my kitchen. I waited for my mother to get home.


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Shoshana Lovett-Graff (she/her) is a white, Jewish queer writer originally from New Haven, Connecticut. Her work has been published in Pittsburgh Poetry Journal, The Flexible Persona (nominated for a Pushcart Prize), Atlas + Alice, Poetica, Blink-Ink, and more.

Elegy for Silence – Stina French

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Photo: Clan of the Cave Bear, 1986

My father had a VHS tape of Clan of the Cave Bear.  It had that same patina of heroism of the Kipling poems I memorized bouncing on his knee, my fee for the most dependable kind of love I got as a kid: that look in his eyes at my ability to memorize his idols.  But in this movie, the hero was a woman. A Cro-Magnon girl, who can learn and adapt, unlike the Neanderthals who adopt her after the rest of her clan dies. Her ability to evolve and be different is seen as a threat, and one of the things she learns that a woman just idn’t supposed to know is how to hunt.  She uses this hunting sling and she’s better at it than any of the men and for 1986, I guess this was a pretty big feminist move even though she slings it wearing an off-the-shoulder wolf skin that bares more than it covers.

She’s played by Daryl Hannah who my Daddy loved with his penchant for leggy blondes, but she’s hated by her adoptive clan for her blue eyes and light hair. She’s also raped more than once by the one who hates her most at age 10; she gives birth to his son at age 11. His spawn’s big ole Neanderthal head almost kills her coming out. I don’t know if Dad knew the book it was based on was written by a woman, who at the age of 40 felt like she’d hit her glass ceiling and was pissed, but I know he was in it for the action more than the proto-feminist dystopian themes.

It had this moment, see, this moment where the woman is holding a baby. They’re being stalked by a cave lion, and she knows if the baby dudn’t quiet down, they’ll both be eaten, so she tries to hush the baby, keep them hid and she hushes that baby alright, she hushes it dead.  And yet another moment comes just like this one later on in the film.  Though it seems unlikely, this I get. This I get now that I lived long enough to know that moments and people, whatever we can’t swallow, really, repeats on us.  She gets this moment with another baby, not her baby, but a baby and another big animal trying to eat ‘em both and the baby starts crying and she starts hushin’ and she flashes back to that other baby and you can feel her change her mind. You can feel that spark light like when she invents fire in another part of the movie and they’re standing by a fire this time and you can just about feel her think, “awh, HELL no, hell no, man, I ain’t gonna hush this one to death, too.”  So she holds that baby up like it was Simba. She waves that baby in a circle like saying come on and just you try and take us down. Make all the noise you want, baby, be as loud as you can. We’ll make a wall outta sound. She tucks that baby onto one hip with one hand and she puts some fire on a stave with the other and she goes absolutely berserk.  All her squallin’ ain’t for nothing; she scares lion-death away acting crazy like that.

And I guess that film left its impression, and I mean more than just for the images I can’t unsee of women hunched over joyless taking it doggy style from the men. I mean I figured as a kid, there’s two options: you lay down, ball up, get real quiet and take it or you bawl til your voice drags you up and out with it, til your voice barrels 12-gauge dead-on, deafening, whatever’s comin’ for you.


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Stina French has featured in many venues in Denver and Boulder, Co., and her work has appeared in Heavy Feather Review, Punch Drunk Press, and on the podcast Witchcraftsy. She is scratching at the window of her body, writing poems like passwords to get back in.  To get forgived. To get at something like the truth. To get it to go down easy, or at all.  She wears welts from the Bible Belt, her mother’s eyes in the red fall.  She’s gone, hypergraphic.  Writes on mirrors, car windows, shower walls.  Buy her a drink or an expo marker.  She’s seeking a home for her manuscript, Also Arc, Also Offering, a Southern-queerdo, coming-of-age memoir, in flash non-fiction and verse. She leads somatic (body-based) writing workshops and retreats focused on empowerment through exploring archetype and unearthing the body’s hidden stories. 

talking in bed – margaret erhart

Matt Clifford - Photo Credit Matt Diss ALOC Media

When we were kids we’d climb aboard my parents’ bed and sail around the world, our faces to an imaginary wind and on the lookout for danger. Slippers were sharks and piles of clothing were shoals. We took turns being captain and sometimes, if a whale was spotted, we’d lower a whaleboat made of pillows. Among the five of us, I was the best harpoonist.

The great ship of our parents’ bed adventured less and less as each of us left home, until finally my mother and father were alone on it and their journeys–if they ever left port at all–were unknown to us. When we came home from our other lives, the bed seemed an ordinary bed, though larger than it appeared in childhood. Was it possible it had grown? My father read the paper lying on the bed. My mother talked on the telephone lying on the bed. Beloved dogs roamed the bed and circled down to sleep on it at night. It became the docking station for my parents’ lives, and ours as well. Somehow if we lost them we expected they would always be found. On the bed.

When my father went into the hospital this past Christmas Eve, I didn’t understand that he might never come out. All I understood was that his side of the bed that night was empty. And the next night, and the next. The room he shared with my mother looked lopsided and wrong. It was clear what needed to be done and I did it, and every night since then I’ve slept in the bed where my father used to sleep. My mother sometimes wakes up in the dark and starts talking. We don’t talk of him, we talk about what time the dog needs to go out, and what we can put together for the next meal, and how much snow the city might get, and sometimes she’ll tell me a dream. In the morning she’ll say, “Don’t get up yet, it’s dark out,” or, “You snore just like your father,” and I wait for her to go back to sleep, then I set my feet down in the shark-infested waters around that great ship of a bed, and the day begins.


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Margaret Erhart’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, and The Best American Spiritual Writing 2005. Her commentaries have aired on NPR. She won the Milkweed National Fiction Prize and was a finalist for an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. She lives and works in Flagstaff, Arizona. You can find her at www.margareterhart.com

Cover Photo: Bastian Pudill

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mental regurgitation – juliet cook

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I was terrified of leeches when I was a girl. I was walking home from school with a boy who pointed at a hole in the ground and told me that bloodsuckers lived inside holes. When I got home, I asked my mom what a bloodsucker was. She informed me bloodsuckers were mutant worms that stuck themselves to your skin and sucked your blood and could not be pulled out with your fingers. She said the only way to get them out was to burn them.

I was extremely squeamish about blood and hellfire, and so the idea of having a big misshapen worm penetrating my flesh and swallowing my blood seemed like a horror movie scene. I saw myself fainting and falling down into a continually sucked pool of my own blood while burning in hell.

In my late teens, I found out about medicinal leeches.  When they had no idea how to treat hysterical females, they would insert the leeches into women’s vaginas, in an attempt to alleviate their mental disorders by having blood sucked out of their female parts.

Sometimes my memory exaggerates things, but I’m telling you what I remember. The bloodsucking leeches are stuck inside women’s vaginas. They are almost impossible to pull out.  Maybe that’s what it means to be a woman. Maybe you can’t control what’s stuck inside you and it will keep sucking and sucking and sucking the life out of you.

How in the hell would they remove a leech from a woman’s vagina? By sticking a cigarette inside her?  By inserting a gloved set of fingers  to probe and pry? Are there special medicinal instruments for extracting the leeches? Or for secretly inserting one inside of a woman forever?

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In my adult life, I still hate the gynecologist. I still worry about what might be inside me. But I’m not as squeamish about blood as I used to be. After all, menstrual blood clots have been blobbing themselves out of my vagina every month for close to 30 years, so I’m pretty used to internal blood baths.

If a leech attached itself to my body now, I think I’d be able to handle it and even take a series of photos, watching it suck enough blood until it fell off me. As a little girl, I had no idea they could ever get enough blood and fall off on their own. As a teenager, I had to investigate everything unusual on my own.

I found out that trying to remove a leech by burning is one of the least effective forms of removal, because not only does that maim or kill the leech, it also has much more potential to injure you. Even if the fire makes the leech fall off, first that injured leech will vomit the sucked blood out of its body and into your body. That bloody vomit will enter your wound.

Then the violent infection of your own wound will work its way into your womb and you will keep growing more and more infected leeches and popping them out of your vagina like a hideous infestation of babies shaped like giant worms or tiny malformed blood sucking penises.

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Juliet Cook is a grotesque glitter witch medusa hybrid brimming with black, grey, silver, purple, and dark red explosions. She is drawn to poetry, abstract visual art, and other forms of expression. Her poetry has appeared in a peculiar multitude of literary publications. You can find out more at www.JulietCook.weebly.com.

Photo: Erol Ahmed

three scenes of heartache as told by a casual observer – grace nordgren

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One. My local Goodwill was nearly empty the week before Christmas. It was eight o’clock. I had ducked in with a friend, looking for refuge from the bitter weather. We were wrapped in coats that were too thin to keep us properly warm. But we didn’t care. As she browsed the CD collection, I of course gravitated over to the books. Worn paperbacks lay discarded in great quantities, adorned with yellow stickers of a garish color. They were marked with cheap prices, but no one seemed to be interested in them, as the shelves were full and the stacks high. Perhaps it was because they had once belonged to other people. Handling the books with care, I scanned the back covers and flipped the pages. A little volume caught my eye from its position on the pile. I picked it up, and almost discarded it once I realized it was a self-help book for troubled couples. For reasons I cannot explain I opened it, and browsed it page by page. The paragraphs were notated in black pen, and the handwriting was neat and legible in the margins. I read none of the notes, except for one, written in large letters under a heavily circled passage in the book: John- we really need to work on this. Please. I set the book down. It was three dollars.

Two. They lay there like dolls. Their human forms, splayed on the concrete, were barely distinguishable under the tarps. There were police and firemen standing over the bodies, and a small crowd was on the curb. My mother and I hurriedly crossed the street, and a woman who saw us on the sidewalk warned us to always be watchful when driving. And to never text on your cell phone. My mother put a hand on my back and asked me to keep explaining The Iliad to her. She stole sidelong glances at me as we walked down the grassy hill, too green and alive to exist right next door to death. The birds chirping was too cheerful, the sky too clear, and children at the park too lively. My mother bought me a smoothie, probably to take my mind off of the people. But I wasn’t thinking about them. I was engrossed in the story of Achilles playing out in my head. I was numb inside. As stony as the walls of Troy.

Three. My friend’s mother was waiting for us to meet her in the car. We were just leaving a shop, about to exit the mall. A strangled cry made us jump. We turned to see a woman tear towards a kiosk, running like the wind. She gasped and shouted at the saleswoman, so loudly we could hear her from twenty feet away. Her voice rose and cracked as she asked her if she had seen a small four-year old, all by himself. Her tears streamed down her face like lightning, her cries thundering through the mall. The saleswoman shook her head, and tried to placate the woman by dialing her phone, presumably to alert somebody, anybody. The woman spun around and began screaming the child’s name. Jack! Jack! Jack! Over and over. We stood there, unsure what to do. Perhaps some other people approached the woman, it’s hard to remember. I will forever feel guilty about how we chose to leave then. Later that night, in bed, in the dark, my friend shakily whispered that she hoped the woman found her son. I wish we had some way of knowing. On days like this, I resent being human.

 

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Bio: Grace Nordgren is a student from Denver, Colorado.  She is working towards acquiring a degree in English.  She enjoys daydreaming, pondering existence, and pomegranates.  This is her first published piece.

Photo: Prudence Earl

12/15/09 – jen kolic

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I broke into your house not knowing what I was looking for. You, maybe.

Instead there’s an overturned stroller in the living room. Piles of clothes that must be yours. Empty picture frames like open mouths. Your mother’s dishes.

You’re dead, and I’m dying.

Through every window you watch me from the dark porch, waiting for me to say it. Waiting for me to open my mouth.

In the attic the rain is deafening. And you’re down there somewhere. Sprawled on the garage roof or the front lawn or Cherry Avenue. In every memory your eyes are already vacant. I never liked it up here, the sloping ceiling pressing down to meet me, and all the sleeping rooms below.

There aren’t any stars tonight, and anyway they’re not for us. You’re dead. And I killed you. And I’m dying.

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Jen Kolic is a writer, editor, and know-it-all living in Denver. She co-hosts Queen City Companion with Brian Flynn, and Mutiny Book Club with Byron Graham. Jen enjoys cats, junk food, and mystery novels, ideally all at once. 

Photo: Yener Ozturk