2 minute read

Erin Burns's "Speculum"

In the old days, they used to use a scalpel. That was before they found out you could split a person in two by way of the vagina. They told us that wombs that can’t host life need to have the bodies attached cleaned out or they would rot.

He reaches up into me, I feel him from the other side. The gown tugs up over my hips without my noticing. His hands snake through me, the cervix opens like a venus flytrap, my body splits like firewood. I’ve been cut into so many times now my intestines feel like an old hose, stepped on and worn down by neighbourhood children. Their rubbery inclines grow thick as he caresses the full length like pushing buttercream from a pastry bag. I come all the way out my throat. Just a small splat on the top of my bruised breasts. The blue of the gown juxtaposed under the tiny figure that dripped from my mouth is bright and I’m filled with hope. Doctor is still reaching around up there. I get the sense that it’s not over yet, these events tend to persist. I look over on the counter where the speculum sits in a dish filled with grey water, I’m not sure whose. Mine was emptied at last week's appointment.


When I looked at my grey water, on its own, emptied from me, I saw tadpoles swimming around, synchronized in little circles. They danced the shape of my mother. They spelled my father’s name. I cough up a chunky discharge now instead of urinating because water coagulates inside my throat and waits there; scared with nowhere to go.

Doctor has filled the length of my body with the length of his, he lays on top of me with his hand pumping my stomach. I look away, aware of the rules. More things drip down my chin but they aren’t part of me. I’ve learned to forget the things that leave my body as though they were never there to begin with. I try to look to the other side of the room but there's a black veil over my eyes, it stings, fades and refills itself. I must be crying again. I reach my hand for the thing on my chest but it’s left me.

“Well that’ll be all, thanks for coming in, I’ll see you next week.” Doctor snaps his gloves off and slips them into a biohazard bag, places it in a cupboard labeled ‘Womb-men surgery’ and leaves the room with a vial of black flies. I lift my hand and find the thing from my chest curled under my neck where there’s still a tuft of hair left.

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