Her Hysterectomy

Nominated for 2018 Best of the Net

they pull out the woman
through her gut:

think of the space now,

open studio with white walls,
dust like milkweed drifting

and oh, the lonely floorboards
in oh, the stolid light. in the house

of the womb sits a memory
long rotted. removed. see her
freshly empty home, life
wrenched out from life itself.

Ordering Coffee in Tel Aviv

Exploitative explorer, I changed
my name to sound authentic.
There, I became Chaya, “life,”
my great-grandmother Clara
translated, the words to a toast
when family gathers, exclaims, “To life!”

Better to be Chaya than Caitlin:
in Israel, my name won’t translate
into sound or slashes, those symbols
I read but never wrote.

But should a barista call for “Life”
when my order’s ready,
I fear I won’t respond to her call,
won’t remember my second self.