When the Doctor Calls After the Final Round of IVF

By Josephine Yu

It’s a good thing he caught you on the threshold

of Publix, so you can cross into

that tiled acreage of plenty.

When you’re pushing a cart with a temperamental

wheel, you won’t cry. When you’re putting chicken

salad with tarragon and almonds

into the cart, you won’t weep, and choosing

a tray of ground chuck, plump under Saran Wrap,

you won’t howl.

Stacking cups of fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt

into the cart, you wouldn’t dream

of collapsing on the tiles in a spectacular

Old Testament hair-pulling fit—not there

before the stoicism of buttermilk,

the solemn dignity of Greek yogurt.

As you reach into the frozen food case, hand above a

bag of mixed vegetables, an old voice

appears in your head, as clear

as the piped-in Billy Joel, that familiar voice

insisting calmly, I told you

you were worthless, didn’t I?

You and your moldy rat turd eggs that will never

make a living thing, and you wait, numb

in the artificial cold, and let that voice say

the truth it has to say with its smug authority,

and then lay the bag of peas, carrots, and lima beans on

the metal seat where the infant would sit.

Josephine Yu is the author of Prayer Book of the Anxious (Elixir Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The Southern Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Cincinnati Review, TriQuarterly, Best New Poets 2008, Welcome to the Neighborhood: An Anthology of American Coexistence, and other journals and anthologies. She is a faculty member at Keiser University and a hospice volunteer.

Originally appeared in NOR 27.

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