Although the how matters

little, she blamed herself

as women do. She told only

those she had to and nursed

her shame alone. There was

never a question. There were no

what ifs. She knew there must be

no baby. It was legal and yet

so difficult to lie on a strange

man’s table, trust his hands

inside. It was hard to feel the

delving, hear the motor, taste

the pain. It was as right

as it was unbearable. She held

these thoughts side by side

and carried them into her future

where she treats the women

who’ve come to lie, often in fear,

on her table. Now there are

pills to take and probes

instead of fingers, but there is

no proxy still, for the simple

words and kind touch

of someone who was there.


Alida Rol practiced as an OB-GYN physician for many years. She holds an MFA in writing from Pacific University. Her poems and essays have won several awards and have appeared in Rhino, Passager, The Examined Life, Nasty Women Poets Anthology, and Hektoen International, among others. She lives in Eugene, Oregon.