Judith H. Montgomery: “Defiance”


Period, period. Months of no no no
egg-and-sperm. Rejected, swept out

on the red flood from my wary womb.
No latched embryo, no child-to-come,

but vessel after doomed little vessel
that might have been. So hard to bear.

Not bear. When I hear you have taken,
frail egg clinging to the blood-cradle

of my womb, I weep and drop the phone
echoing hello hello into my waiting lap.

At last, you will arrive to be embraced.
Embraced, not knowing—blessed, not

knowing—how tears will ravage both
our faces, days, in wounding skirmishes

of will. This first yes, cleaved, cleaving,
is the last that you—my rebel child—

will want to offer. Never mind. All our
contested—labored—grateful days,

I will say yes, yes, for your life and breath.

Judith H. Montgomery’s poems appear in the Bellingham Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Healing Muse, among other journals, and in a number of anthologies. Her first collection, Passion, received the Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Her fourth book. Litany for Wound and Bloom, was a finalist for the Marsh Hawk Prize, and appeared in August 2018 from Uttered Chaos Press. Her prize-winning narrative medicine chapbook, Mercy, appeared from Wolf Ridge Press in 2019.

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