Christina Moriconi: Contra-conception: On the 20th anniversary of a child I chose not to have

Long before your conception,
a mix of protection with lust
prevented your existence.
With regularity,
chanted “my body, my choice,”
sought my “self”
before I sought the thought of you.
In this contra-conception,
mixed with bohemian illusions,
men wooed me brain and body,
and I muted thoughts of children.

Your father was a painter.
His life tumbled into piles,
into a series of clichés:
clothes crumpled into corners,
supplies littered the floor,
the kitchen graveyard of meals past,
and books stacked everywhere.
“I really only sleep here,”
He said to excuse its state.
And while my eyes held one truth,
I let his intelligence, his art, his passion,
whispered briefly in his single bed,
Tell me another on our first night.

When I woke, wine still in my head,
I read the Edna St. Vincent Millay
Left on his tiny breakfast table,
held the morning-after coffee
in my other hand,
and you became “you” inside “me.”
Our second encounter faded
Into friendship, and reality
Confronted illusions of “us.”
Alone, I decided, chose
Whether you and he were past or future.
And when you weren’t you anymore,
He gave me a vase with a peasant couple,
their drinks raised around a tiny table,
overwhelmed by a bountiful bowl of fruit.

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