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The Cure-All 

Girl is attacked 
in a park near home, and
before running, is called  
crazy bitch. 

But she gets home. 
Girl does not know if
she is hemorrhaging, or 
if the red on her hands is his. 
She opens Momma’s door. 
Gets no blood on the knob. 
Girl’s crotch, an infinite ember. 

Momma’s snores crawl down the stairs. 
Her 16-hour days and 
bad insurance mean Girl never asks 
to go to the hospital. Girl never tells Momma 
when the anemia turns her body into slush. 

Girl is Momma’s daughter, after all. 
Knows most things 
can be healed with honey, 
lemon, hot water. 
Add Vicks, if necessary.

Plan B May Not Work

Girl goes to Harlem to get her things. 
Getting your things is the sign the breakup 
is for real. Her ticket to Indiana is one way. 
She tells everyone she is going to grad school. 
She is running from blood. 

Her old man got a temper. 
He says Baby! and pretends 
he didn’t knock the hearing from her skull. 
The hallways of the fourth floor walk-up 
smell of Dettol; Dettol is how he always cleans up 
fights or nights of sex with other women. 
He asks for her body, and she declares her items as hers. 
He says one last time, and she catches 
a tongue in her throat. Her old man reduces her to a place 
to put his dick when bored. 
Her old man can wash her away for a dollar. 

Girl does not get her things back. 
(Is the breakup for real?) 
Girl is thrown out of the apartment as quickly as he came,
uses her last fifty bucks, 
walks to one of the new big chain drug stores that plague Harlem’s 
once brown, delicate face. Asks for a morning after pill. Prays. 
Makes the two-hour commute back to her Momma, 
flies to Indiana two days after.

In her first seminar class, Girl uses the bathroom, 
breaks to vomit. All she does is sweat and faint. 
Girl ran from blood, and now prays for blood. 
Goes to the doctor 
where the Indiana nurse says
Plan B may not work if you weigh more than 176 pounds. 
Indiana nurse says, pregnant. 
Girl says, termination without a thought. 
Nurse says, the fetus is a human being. 
Girl says, me too.

Two weeks pass. 
Girl’s decision can only be acted upon every other Thursday.

Doctor splits Girl’s crotch wide with metal, 
says, this should not hurt since you were 
ready to open your legs before this. 
Thick, clear, devices connected 
to Girl sucking, filling, 
bright red the way children 
enjoy the ends of Slurpees. 

The nurse wraps what could have been 
in a blue sheet; runs out of the room. 
Sometimes, Girl imagines, what grew 
inside of her still 
floating in a biohazard tank, waiting to heal. 
Sometimes, Girl imagines 
the roots of a sycamore tree growing 
in a dumpster.

Hílda Davis is a writer, educator, and genealogist from Staten Island, New York. Her work has appeared in The Offing, Callaloo, and elsewhere. A graduate of the University at Albany and Indiana University – Bloomington, Hílda is currently an adjunct faculty member and Master of Fine Arts candidate in Creative Writing at New York University. She primarily writes about girlhood, survival, and those she loves who are dead and living.

Featured photo courtesy Brandon Rivera.