In diagrams, there’s one on either side of 
            the uterus. But they float
            around the coral pouch, tangle up, 
                        the surgeon said.
Cilia sway like seagrass, 
            the tube wall pulsing with waves
            of hairs to push the genetic scribble
                        through, out—
Though not for me. I think of prior women knifed open
            to first acquire this knowledge.
            I think of vespers
                        mumbled over their noses and cheeks
while the last few stars
            of thought punctuated the mind.
            Blood smelled the same in the sixteenth 
                        century. Rain on flagstones, clay and spit.
Gabriele Falloppio also studied the labyrinth 
            of the ear. Held the tiny drum
            lightly in his palm. But the pink string 
                        I saw in my surgeon’s photograph
resembles a trumpet—the pipes
            pumped as though by a mouth.
            Pucker, kiss.                 Tuba uteri.
                        We say tube. Flared opening releasing 
a breath of something. A legislated
            cell. There are raw edges to everything
            if you look
                        closely. My stowaway was
a silkworm caught in the grass, gathering 
            red fibers in a squashed hell.
            My forehead cold. And my hands. My face
                        a wooden figurehead growing mold
fixed to the bow of a smashed ship.    
            Nautical needle spinning between 
            North and South. Where was I? Where
                        was I? Pinned and saved. In the photo,
the surgeon’s tool lifts the strand: 
            it bulges like a snake.
            Cracks caulked with blood. Ripping open.
                        The organs around what’s missing and their red
verbena will shift in the cavity. Are shifting now. The veined 
            purse settles. Absence filling in.
            I do not feel
                                    that work except that

I do. 


Copyright © 2024 by Tyler Mills. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 7, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“In October 2022, I went to the emergency room in the middle of the night thinking I had a blood clot. It turns out it was a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy.”
—Tyler Mills