Ode to Donor Gametes

I was not thinking of Russia
or the Holocaust or eugenics
when I picked the donor 
from an online catalog like 
I was ordering a new pair of shoes.
I don’t mean to sound blasé. 
It was more complicated than that. 
But by the time spring came 
and the third failed IVF, I didn’t care 
about SAT scores or eye color;
I wanted any embryo that latched
to my uterine wall and grew. 
The German philosophy major, 
the filmmaker from California, even 
the one whose favorite food was pork. 
What did genes matter? I already knew 
I’d name my second child for dead relatives 
from the old country, the ones
who made it out before the camps. 
My uterus washed with grief, empty 
kiddush cup after the seder. 
That was the only time I really prayed.  
That day when I paced outside, 
waiting for a call from my doctor 
with good news, eggs and sperm 
married in a petri dish, an offering 
from a Midwestern girl 
with ovarian abundance and kind eyes
who knew to look away.

Copyright © 2023 by Robin Silbergleid. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 14, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.