Sonogram Storytelling

This is a poem about abortion--the law versus the rights of women--by the poet Danielle DeTiberus. Here's why she wrote it: Currently, 25 states regulate that a woman undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion. In some cases, the doctor performing the ultrasound must narrate the procedure, following a script which the AMA has found to contain false and misleading information.
Danielle DeTiberus
April 1, 2017

Sonogram Storytelling

By Danielle DeTiberus

Currently, 25 states regulate that a woman undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion. In some cases, the doctor performing the ultrasound must narrate the procedure, following a script which the AMA has found to contain false and misleading information.

Here is the baby that will never know
it won’t be. This is so that you’re more
informed: four healthy chambers;

enforced child support. Because you are
the woman whose body won’t hold on
to what is not yours: an idea, a still life

of motherhood that’ll bleed the canvas
dry. This is a static watercolor, snapshot
for no fridge. Looking isn’t law, but

now’s the time to listen. Some women
prefer to plug their ears, hum above
heart tones. Today you will terminate

the life of a whole, separate, unique
living human being.
We’re nearly
through. Focus on the gel’s apathetic 

squirt onto skin, the rustle of paper
against flesh, the insipid hit the nurse
turned up to drown me out. Nothing

to apologize for, and yet we politely beg
each other for forgiveness. Your tears,
my script. Helpless while the pulse wails

through the monitor. No matter our
state, something between us. Masked
actors relegated to the chorus of our own

drama. No moral to this story, just
another song of compliance: Abortion
increases the risk of breast cancer

and suicide. Best to let thoughts
wander. Not this cramped office,
but the beach. My voice a far sea,

only sting from saltwater. Warm
sand instead of stirrups. Not this
transducer, but a bright conch pressed

to the shell of your face. Its echo so like
the ocean you can’t help but believe
what you hear. Though, it’s a trick.

That thrum isn’t the sound of breaking
waves coming to the end of their
short run. This is the sound of you living.

Danielle DeTiberus teaches Creative Writing at Charleston School of the Arts. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry 2015, Arts & Letters, [PANK], Rattle, The Southeast Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She currently serves as the Poetry Society of South Carolina’s Program Chair, bringing nationally renowned poets to Charleston for readings and seminars. Read more about her work at www.danielledetiberus.com.

August 11, 2017