Two Poems, by Ali Whitelock

ode to an ovary

your belly protruded me invaded i could not breathe you could have held it in you chose not to it’s natural you think to have it stick out like demi moore on the front cover of that magazine you give a photographer too much money to shoot you and your bump naked you post the pictures on the net you get no hits nobody wants to look at you and your bump naked ‘cept maybe your adoring husband who works in finance so you can drive a mercedes your alabaster breasts are full of low-fat milk you go to pilates on wednesdays yoga on tuesdays you read buddhism for busy mothers smile serenely at waitresses wipe your decaff latte moustache with the lavender scented hanky you bought at the overpriced french shop on the corner you invite your friends to dinner feed them cassoulet and coq au vin from a can you are trying for more babies don’t have to think about IVF your friend is sad she wanted three only managed two poor thing distraught i don’t fucking care you buy blue cheeses from france you eat them with fennel crackers you drink non-alcoholic sparkling semillon on sunday afternoons after tennis while the calcium is being leeched from my fucking bones and my worn out body flushes every two fucking minutes your ovaries are not borderline malignant your uterus is intact not sliced from you by men in blue scrubs with plastic bags on their shoes yours functions perfectly in its dark red silence a venus fly-trap snapping at the eggs your athletic and successful husband in finance will fertilise for you with a hole in fucking one you don’t have to worry he won’t get a hard-on while you’re ovulating at six o’clock on a tuesday eleven days after your last period you feel sorry for your forty-something husbandless girlfriends asking gay men to masturbate into tumblers squirting the contents into their vaginas they keep their legs high in the air it makes it stick don’t you know they heard it on oprah you have more estrogen than you deserve your fallopian tubes are fresh and slender your eggs slide effortlessly from your non-stick teflon ovaries every twenty eight fucking days you could put the kettle on for them you have one baby you want two you should live in china––or get a dog you’re not demi fucking moore.

eventually you will turn fifty

and this will be the day you lose your mind.
You will produce honey and certain insects
will be attracted to you
you will put on a dab of hollywood red lipstick
this will be the same colour you discovered
when you were ten in the cardboard mushroom
carton that doubled as your mother’s make-up box
and when you emerged from the bathroom wearing
the lipstick your father told you you looked like a fucking
whore and it will surprise you that actually
he was wrong
you will put on a black frock which never
used to but now clings to the rolls you seem
to have developed over-night. These rolls
will make you appear more womanly and you will not mind this one bit
you will start to take more time over your hair
buy a pair of earrings in the jewellery shop
that is closing down they will match your lipstick
and you will look beautiful because your hair
will fall over one eye and this will make you look sultry
you will even consider putting on the MAC eyeshadow
you bought seven years ago and never opened
it may still be good. A man you do not know
will tell you your earrings make the green
of your eyes look very nice and you will laugh
and look away as though you are shy though
you will hope the lens of his camera is still
upon you
you will have spent twenty years with the same partner
this partner will love you more and better than anyone
ever could including your own mother who loves you very much
eventually your earrings and lipstick will cause your partner
substantial discomfort though he will not say anything
about it because he will know that turning
fifty sometimes means that things might change
and he will know that all he can do is wait to see if anything
is still standing once the high pressure
system has moved through and although he is not a buddhist
he will accept the river of life will sometimes
burst its banks that water will rise in kitchens
and the insurers will need to be called in to assess the damage
to the european appliances and you will know something
inside you is dying now that the tub of fresh double cream
that has sat happily at three degrees in the refrigerator
of your life is now on the turn. You will meet a man you did not expect to meet you will want to spend
many nights with him you will make up many excuses
as to why you are coming home late you will ask your girlfriend
who is also very good at lying to join you in your dreich den
of dishonesty and she will agree to act as your alibi
should your partner of twenty years decide to call her one night to confirm you are with her
on the evenings you are not home your partner
of twenty years will eat dinner on his own
and he will cling wrap yours so when you come home
he can microwave it for you so you can have a hot meal
he will know that things are now very different
and he will know exactly what is different
but he will not say anything about it because
he will not want to make you feel you cannot behave
in the way you find you suddenly need to behave
he will notice you are now shaving your legs
having your bikini line waxed and sometimes
your nails painted fire engine red and he will not believe
the outrageous lies you are telling him
but he will not call you on them and this will
make you think you are getting away with them
and even though he is not a buddhist he will
not show you any rage rather he will love
you all the more because he will understand
that what you need right now is love
and one morning when you will have stuffed
your liver so full of your own lies that it sits
swollen like that of a french goose
he will ask you gently if you want to talk about
what’s going on and still you will tell him everything
is fine and keep on with your lies till you are now choking
on them
eventually you will be home for dinner less and less
and your lies will increase more and more
and one night you will send him a text saying
you will be back later than usual maybe even the next day
and your lie for this one will be very original and completely
unbelievable but you are now so addicted
to your lies like a kid on nothing but smarties and mars bars
and tob-le-fucking-rones that you just keep right on shovelling
your refined sugar onto the fire of your truth and your partner
of twenty years will text you back simply saying ‘OK’
cause he knows you need to go through what you need
to go through and he will eat dinner alone that night along
with all the other nights and he will wash the dishes
and watch the evening news and he will miss that you are not there shouting
at the telly when the liberals come on and he will
put the hot water bottle on your side of the bed
and cling wrap your dinner because he understands
the importance of a warm bed and a hot meal
when you finally come home.

Ali Whitelock is a Scottish poet who currently lives in Australia, though her heart still aches for the brooding Scottish skies. Her poems have been published in a variety of magazines and journals and her memoir, ’poking seaweed with a stick and running away from the smell’ was published in 2009 to critical acclaim. Her forthcoming poetry collection, ‘and my heart crumples like a coke can’ is due for release in 2018.

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