"Don't Say Gay" and "A Reporter Interviews the Women"

Don’t Say Gay

My husband’s friend moved
to Florida. Maybe for work,
maybe because he’d grown
tired of the family mishegas
in Queens.
             After his child
is born, he asks,
“Is there anything you did
that made your child gay.”
            I don’t tell him about
bathing her with lavender
soap, or the rainbow
unicorn one of her friends
gave her at her third
birthday party, or that
pronouns are slippery.



A Reporter Interviews the Women

“So, what’s private?” one woman asks,
willing to social media the abortion she had as a teenager.
I knew a woman who said, “If I could have, I would have had an abortion”
in the same room as the child, who was born in the ‘60s.
Despite all the intervening news, the child did grow up
to say he pays for that knowledge every damn day.
I am the only child my mother wanted. All those bushes she left unpruned.
One of my siblings still hates me for that.
After I left home the house was abandoned,
the roof collapsing after a hurricane.
Another woman says, “I was so angry I took my anger out on the weeds.”
That was never my mother’s way.
Instead the weeds and roses took out her anger on the house.
My husband used to say, “house, baby, car”
and we were happy to choose.
A woman posted online that she was glad her fertility was gone.
51 people liked that statement, while 97 were concerned.
“It’s like the drop of a roller coaster, you know
what’s coming, but the shock” says another woman.
The price of morning-after pills has soared.
Another inflation.
When pregnant I called the fetus, the passenger,
and understood what it was like to gestate an alien.
During the delivery, the doctor said, this sometimes ends in the ICU.
The new person and I both lived through that beginning.
I wanted a baby, I had a baby, chose to assume risk.
Define private: plant a tree in her memory.



Carol Dorf

Carol Dorf is a Zoeglossia fellow. Her writing has been published in three chapbooks, and in journals that include Great Weather for Media, The Mom Egg, Aybss and Apex, About Place, Slipstream, The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, Scientific American, and Maintenant. She is the founding poetry editor of Talking Writing, and teaches math in Berkeley, California. Carol recommends Fair Fight.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Monday, August 21, 2023 - 11:21