Drawer by Tamara Madison

                              UCSB, 1973

A few days after the seduction
he decides to talk to me,
asks me to go to the clinic.
Make sure there is no growth,
he says.

Now I am looking up at the light.
My knees are spread and two women
sit at the foot of my table.
They carry on a lively conversation
as they work. I’m not listening.
I feel the warm light
on my newly-wakened
nether world,
and the women begin
to search inside me
as in a drawer.

I imagine them pulling things out –
bottle caps, old tires, tampons of course,
lipstick tubes, wrappers, leaves,
a shred from Seventeen magazine…
But I’m not so old, I want to protest,
I’ve barely begun my collection!

You’re fine, they tell me
and hand me a prescription
to make me bleed. Outside
it’s raining. I sit in French class
staring out at the rows
of eucalyptus dripping
in their ragged bark,
at the stream of bicycles
hissing on the wet path.
I watch him round the corner
as always at this time:
brown bike
violin tucked under one arm
beard trimmed
too old to be a student.


Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook “The Belly Remembers”, and two full-length volumes of poetry, “Wild Domestic” and “Moraine”, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, the Worcester Review, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac and many other publications. A swimmer, dog lover and native of the southern California desert, she has recently retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school. Read more about her at tamaramadisonpoetry.com.