This piece was originally published in May of 2018. This Black history month, we're sharing it again as a touching complement to our coverage of abortion access.

Thank you for your cooperation  The soft bow of your heel

The air pushed open by your leg span  Do you remember

when we met  How no drugs were administered

How the hands that opened you were cold

and soiled  How the unsurgical steel slid

you open easy as an envelope  Splay

and I get along just fine  Feel

the wind warp through you

keyhole to chimney

You cow into


She offs

her layers  Slumps

down the table resenting

proximity  The hands are still

ice and white melting into her folds

Her trickle-down DNA blotting the hissing

sheet  The flinch in her breast  She would have

swallowed the hand mirror to avoid me  She turns

herself over and presses the hard cotton gown into her

gums  She turns herself over to spread and capture  To

make certain the unsick animal stays put between her thighs

Xandria Phillips is the author of Reasons For Smoking, which won the 2016 Seattle Review chapbook contest judged by Claudia Rankine. She hails from rural Ohio, and inherited her grandmother’s fear of open water. Xandria is the poetry editor for Honeysuckle Press and the curator of Love Letters to Spooks. You can find her poetry in Beloit Poetry Journal, The Journal, Nashville Review, Ninth Letter, The Offing, and elsewhere.