“Family History” by Elizabeth Vignali

Willow Springs 89

Found in Willow Springs 89

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I stir turmeric into the milk in the orange pot on the stove.
Honey. Cinnamon. Ginger. Black pepper. Cayenne.
Fry eggs in butter in the iron skillet. Animal gifts

from the once-mothers. From the would-be. Treasures
of womb and duct and nipple. Down the street
at the hospital my sister’s womb is being lifted

from her body. Velvet drawstring sack stuffed with sparkling
fibroids. Her spirit floats above it, maybe. Witness to
her own surgery as some accounts say. Our mother suspended

there with her, ten years after her own uterus killed her.
Twenty years after her breasts couldn’t finish the job.
A two-hour reunion while they watch the surgeon’s hands

gloved in rubber and blood and then she’ll be alone again,
breastless wombless mist of a once-mother. My sister will be
back in her body, solid if a little emptier than before,

driven home and cared for by our womb-free aunt.
I eat eggs, butter toast, stir spiced milk into my coffee. Check
my phone over and over. Tonight I will kiss my daughters

in their beds. Fall asleep as I always do with one hand
on the soft bulge of my stomach, unconscious elegy,
and dream of black caves guarded by dragons.

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