Jane Roe

(Norma McCorvey, Roe of landmark 'Roe V. Wade' ruling, passed away on February 18th, 2017.)

The name conjures fish eggs
alchemied in the ovaries, life suspended.
You were impoverished, unwed, a freak show
barker turned side show, your womb,
a plum, swelling too quickly for the ruling
to do you any good. I can imagine
the underbelly of your grief. The frustration
of anonymity, of being so many things:
champion, nymph, Sisyphus, sub-sister.

Your life was simple, you said, all you wanted
was to empty the O of your womb, to “lay down”
you whispered, instead opening your body
to the world, so that Roe was only case
and not contents. Norma McCorvey,
your alibi was an 8th grade education, or eyes
that were only beginning to shutter open. Clawing
your way to the center of causes, you always ended
up in the margins, waiting to be born.

I wonder at your choice of baptism, if an ocean
would have been too wild, a church too still.
There is the smell of chlorine as he dips you in the pool,
your eyes closing tight, the dilation of your pupils,
undeceived? Death is not always the end.
We bury you as Jane and Norma.
The rhythm of your heart beating
back into the universe. The sun of our wombs
burning with you; the moon of our wombs weeping.

Alexandra Umlas lives in Huntington Beach, CA and is currently an MFA student at California State University, Long Beach. Read other articles by Alexandra.