Why Do None of Your Friends Have Kids?

By Stephanie Johnson

We are a disappointment
to our mothers, collecting pills,
wearing them like bone necklaces

around sandy, raw throats.
Bloodlines should post stop signs
at the doors of our bodies;

our ovaries need eulogies.
We are no longer a captive
to their monthly moon-contest.

Womanhood is a wet game,
a dripping red dew. But we stay dry,
become flint for autumn wildfires.

We are no more mothers
than a lamp with a broken
light bulb is the sun.

With copper and plastic,
we discarded bleeding, so our blood
finds other ways to haunt us:

thicker hips, inconsistent cycles.
We instructed our bodies not to create
and they have called our bluff.

Remember us—the generation of women
who were too scared of the future to bleed,
too tired to raise our own heads, let alone

those of others. We are the dryads
who hoarded cactuses and ferns
because we needed to nurture

something. We are the maidens
who carried signs instead of fetuses,
rode protests sidesaddle.

We are the witches
who fed you our uteruses
on a plate decorated with daisy patterns.

Stephanie Renae Johnson is the recipient of an Asheville Regional Artist Grant and the first place winner of the 2017 Lumina Magazine Poetry Contest. She is the Editor-in-Chief of The Passed Note. Her work has been published by New Ohio Review, Beecher’s Magazine, Jabberwock Review, and QU, among others. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her husband and their seven bookshelves. You can learn more at www.srenae.com.