Tubal Ligation

I think about the sages who forbid
such incisions, each slice small
as a pomegranate seed buried in the skin.
I can’t decide what scares me more.
The chance that I might sleep forever,
sedated, in a landscape poked with stars.
Or that I wake in a country
where a body does not belong to itself,
every part a plot of earth to be raked over.
I don’t fear fasting before surgery.
It’s a minor sacrifice, all food stopped
in the name of clip and ligature.
As for the camera attached to a tool
slender as the stem of an apple—
better that surveillance than a greater
intrusion. Remember how God walks
and his weight is felt everywhere
in Eden. Here’s what frightens me:
to be soil underfoot, all that possibility
of green and tender shoots
if only the divine would intervene.
I’m not afraid of the cuts left by a scalpel.
Let me be a garden of unfruitfulness. Let me
give birth to new defiance every day.

Jehanne Dubrow is the author of nine poetry collections and three books of nonfiction, including most recently Exhibitions: Essays on Art & Atrocity (University of New Mexico Press, 2023). Her next book of poems, Civilians, will be published by Louisiana State University Press in 2025. Her writing appears in Poetry, New England Review, the Southern Review, and Ploughshares. She is a professor of creative writing at the University of North Texas.