episiotomy poem

by Chiara Di Lello

I broke out of your body
they told you I had to

for years I knew nothing
of suture or seep – 

I believe the tale you tell 
of the male doctor who had
no faith in supple or stretch
and leapt instead 
for the certainty of slice

I left it wounded, the bone
cradle you wrapped around me

If it were me, opened 
and sewed up again
would the memory ever sound
like anything but blade?

If it were someone 
who did it, not something
would their face turned toward me
not always say knife?

behind my eyes turns
a tiny, vicious machinery
what you keep from me
moves the wheels

I broke out of your body
you tell me I had to
it happened to me
but I happened to you


Chiara Di Lello is a writer and teacher whose work has appeared in Best New Poets, Noble / Gas Qtrly, Little Patuxent Review, and Yes Poetry, among others. She delights in public art, public libraries, and biking through New York City.