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Poetry

Out Of Body

Bianca Spriggs

My Liberian student writes
of the refugee camps and the militia men
who sometimes held guns to their heads,
who sometimes fired.

They made bets once over a pregnant woman
attempting to decipher by how high
she was carrying, the gender of her seed.

One of them with too much invested
offered to get his machete so they could all find out. 

Agreement all around. 

They were so careful.
The more precise with the blade,
the less chance to swipe off genitalia,
rendering the wager moot.

And then, a slush of embryonic fluid
and intestines tangled at their feet.

None of them noticed
the woman’s screams
become notscreams.

The result was anticlimactic, but no real waste.

Just a womanchild lying curdled in the dust
still connected umbilically to her mother’s gut.

The men exchanged their winnings: cigarettes.
Walked away, smoking.

I set the essay down, enclose the phantoms
of mother and daughter.
Their vapors rise from the page.

I take them into my living arms and hold––

hold.

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