For Angela: After she is told she has cervical cancer

Poem for ?Angela?, W_____ After she is told she has cervical cancer
Maisha Quint
behind prison perimeter fences
huddled inside
a cinderblock cell
you sit and do not scream
dig fingers deep
into your palms
indent half-moons
of cinched skin
quick ragged
as needle-thin pain
shoots through
your abdomen
you do not scream
even after
your period
one month longer
than it should
the prison doctor
dismisses it as
and you tell me
about the first surgery
how your body collapsed
onto the concrete walk
how a guard
your crumpled figure
dumped you
into the back of an ambulance
and after this
you discover
some surgeon
your womb
sliced off
two thirds of your cervix
didn’t bother
to close
the gaping hole
how did you not scream?
and after this
you finally understand
you wake-up
in pools of red
blood clots
down your legs
and after
another doctor
spreads your thighs
his hands up
your vagina
and stuffs gauze
into the remains
of your cervix
the bleeding
starts again
one week later
forces you
to pull
length upon length
of bloody cotton
from your womb
how did you not scream?
and after this
you crawl
on hands and knees
soaked in sweat
beg the prison nurse
please please
i still bleed
is not
and after all this
your throat
still closes
around your screams
can’t quite
push out
the pain of lying on your back
shackled to a stretcher
and after this
you swallow silence
like the motrin
doctors give you
to cure your cancer
your cervix
will never
be whole
and after all this
when you find
that there are
no sounds songs silences
to match
this terror
i’ll know
not to ask
how did you not scream?
i’ll do it
for you