From the Archive: “Vasectomy,” by Cathy Song

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“Vasectomy,” by Cathy Song, appeared in the Fall 1993 issue of MQR.


It is clear
the first time they make love again
— the wife’s wound stitched
tight into a young girl’s
drawstring purse, gold
coins intact, the last baby’s
difficult passage erased,
the stitches melting into butter,
the husband’s broken sex
tender, a damaged eggplant
after the delicate operation,
the procedure as delicate as eye surgery —
it is clear
they needn’t be careful.
Money worries, birth control devices
are flushed down the toilet
like the thwarted sperm
diverted to another stream.
Now the husband and wife
can feast through the darkest days.
They send the children to bed early,
most nights the husband hums, whistles
and splashes on aftershave,
resurrecting memories of his wild youth.
His first love in the back of a pickup truck.
The wife lies in the dark — a wound
her husband can’t see in the dark —
the basket of her belly
filled with rotting eggs,
the ones that didn’t get picked.
She thinks of the lost possibilities,
the one that remains hidden in the grass
unnamed by yearned for —
the idea of a bright one,
stranded,
star-gazer, poet, mathematician.


Image: Hoffman, Hans. Detail of “Fermented Soil.” 1965. Oil on canvas. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

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