Poetry: “J’accouche!"

The man in white asks if he can m’éxaminer (1),

touch me, intimately. Down there. The place I haven’t seen in weeks. I feel him rummaging about,

(lost his wedding band, has he?) so I bite my tongue to stop from asking that he buy me dinner first. He invites his companion to do the same, sweet young thing, she apologises before plunging her hand (yes, her whole hand) inside me, « Pas de soucis » I tell her, « allez-y, faites comme chez vous... » (2) She’s not the first, she’s the fifteenth, if I can be trusted with keeping score. I’m not even sure all of them were doctors. Bored fathers, in need of distraction from the hallway?

A janitor, perhaps. Or four.

Much blood and bleating passes. I ask the anaesthetist if she’s taken, slurring that if not, will she marry me? I’ve never done drugs, but if this is what high feels like, count me in! 7 days no sleep, this is heaven! My cries, at this juncture, are only for water, and food, but neither are allowed.

“Ma protestation affamée n'est que le cri de mon âme. ” (3)

You’re spraying perfume into my mouth, Yves Saint Laurent. What’s wrong with you?! They put that curtain up for a reason. I don’t want to know what they’re going to do. The doctor’s losing patience, « Vous ne poussez plus du tout, Madame!» (4) It’s not my fault- that roast chicken won’t fit through the turtle-neck’s collar, no matter how hard you pull. « Votre corps, il sait quoi faire...» (5) Well, I’m sorry, Docteur, but mon corps seems to have lost the memo.

Tearing, ripping, cutting, slicing... the words alone make my ankles curl. « déchirure... sphincter... sutures » (6) I cannot tell what he is saying. Smug, I pity the other poor sod in the room being so savagely torn in two.

But there’s a squawk, and a rolling, goat-like wail. « Un petit garçon! » (7) in his confusion, daddy cries, « Ben non, monsieur...» (8) chides the nurse, shifting the cord, spreading you out

for his eyes to take you in. He sniffs back tears. « une fille! My love! Tu as eu ton b aby girl! » (9) Your name, I whisper your name. Your sweet, powder-soft name.

between the cotton and sweat. You smell of blood, and home, and my tired insides, snuffling across my chest like a tiny pug. I coo your name, and stroke the hair I cannot see.

I can’t see anything. The entire room is retreating.

They tore you from me, and suddenly I am empty.

It’s all gone dark. I scream, or maybe I whisper.

Hold onto me... Hold onto me...


1. Examine me

2 “No problem... make yourself at home”

3 “My famished protest is simply the cry of my very soul.” Famous line from Emile Zola’s novel “J’accuse!” “My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul” 4 You’re not pushing at all, Madame. 5 Your body knows what to do. 6 Tearing... sphincter... sutures

7 A baby boy! 8 Not at all, sir...

9 A girl! My love! You got your baby girl!

Elizabeth M Castillo is a British-Mauritian poet, writer and language teacher. She lives in Paris with her family and two cats. When not creating arguably middling poetry, she can also be found working on her MA and flowerbeds, or writing a variety of different things under a variety of pen names. You can find her on twitter @EMCWritesPoetry