Abstinence

December 21, 2019

 

While barefoot for the MRI, to establish the cold chance of pregnancy the doctor asks —
are you sexually active?

I say Yes. Then —
no.
Sorry, no,
not with a man.

She frowns, form dangling —
I don’t follow.

Breath —
not active with a man.

She touches pen to page,
lifts it.

I draw in all the air —
Same-sex partner.

She stares, nods.
Smiles —
I’m unclear what to put down.

Oh —
no.
Just write no.
Shaking my head to
clarify the negative.

We stand in wide silence
for a full minute.

She asks —
What if I just write abstaining,
is that appropriate?

My face pinches a smile,
molasses-veil embarrassment.
Backless paper gown gripped
almost shut
with one hand —
the other splayed on my face
like an octopus
constringitur in morte —
but I think abstinence suggests
self-imposed restraint?

She smiles,
Writes —
abstaining
in small, neat letters.

Dawn Watson