|The Poisoned Ink Well|
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
I have never told
why I feel like I do (about abortion)
or what it was like to go hungry while I was pregnant
my stomach growling with a baby in it.
begging the welfare office not to cut my food stamps
(they did anyway)
Waiting two days, three days,
I was so hungry during the first half of my pregnancy.
That I kept loosing weight for the first five months.
I remember scraping pennies from every corner of my house
to buy a box of macaroni and cheese for 24 cents.
And making it without milk or margarine
Nothing left in the cupboards
and no car to go and argue with an office of sneering strangers
Stranded without a way to leave a rural area.
Calling asking for help and being told
Too bad. (Too fucking bad)
I'll never ask anyone for anything, again.
(This was 16 years ago and I still remember it
that feeling like a punch in the gut
when every tear sucks inward and won't fall
and helpless to help yourself
There is an anger that won't ever leave no matter what you do.
It's not the emptiness of a hollow stomach that you remember
It is more like a hard, firm, fist inside of you, it fills you up,
and the fist becomes your soul, but it's not a mean one
and it isn't evil.
It stays there long after the event and it makes you determined
to be tough, fierce, mean, resolved, and most of all independent.
Determined that you will never let anyone in your life
feel like you did, even the ones that said NO,
but you know better than to ask for their help, again.)
You resolve to never ask anyone for mercy.
And then finally the only person who would help was
Your old friend from childhood
(a person misunderstood by just about everyone else,
but she understands you and your soul)
So, so, thankful to have this friend, who cares
(Renee) who makes sandwiches at a deli
She would drive 20 miles out of her way
She would sneak the day old ones home to me.
She was told to throw them away
but she’d bring home a whole bag of cellephane wrapped
sandwiches just for me.
and how good it felt to have day old barbeque
and how rich and greedy I felt
with a whole bag of whole wheat, rye, or white
ham, pastrami, and roast beef,
and just how good it tasted
and there was no limit to how many of them
I could eat in the evening
as she arrived at my house with the bag of sandwiches
meant for the dumpster
that ended up in my stomach instead.
I’ve been determined to never be weak or needy, again
That my son will never go hungry like I did
I save every little bit of food
(scraps of bacon, ends of onions) in my freezer
and keep large stocks of beans and rice
just in case.
That I will never hold a crying baby in my arms
and beg them not to turn off the water
or serve an eviction notice.
That I was never liked as a human
at least not enough to reproduce
not that much, anyway.
And certainly no one
Wanted me or my offspring.
I am always hiding
this from my smiling
much doted on suburban son.
He and I were never wanted
(so what could I assume about having, more children?)
The one lesson that I learned in life
My main fact in life
That I learned in my young adulthood
Growing up the hard way
in the southern United States
Louisiana in particular
Was if you’re
Don’t have children.
If you can help it.
Nobody wants you or them.
My poor friends have kids, now
and I try to help
People have hooked up to my electricity
I've fed entire families
Given out instructions on how to fill out
food stamp, welfare, student aid forms
(stuff I wished I'd known back then)
And you know Louisiana is like a third world country
in the US.
Tourist come and go and enjoy the atmosphere and the food
They ignore the poverty
the growing prison population,
the crime, the murder rate
and the poor kids.
And there are alot of them
in that state doing
without things that most people in this country
take for granted
Melanie Burke Zetzer
(You know it's funny that the same people
who want you to have children
are the same ones who want to cut back on
school lunches, welfare, and food stamp programs)