Symptomatic

by Chelsea B. DesAutels

Even after stitches
I bled through

cotton & time—

red afternoons,
crimson midnights.

Still they hush women
who complain & anyway

I was busy tending

the baby so I washed
my underwear into rags.

What would you have done?

A woman knows when to bite

her tongue, how to grind
the muscle until there’s nothing

left but sweet familiar red.

Chelsea B. DesAutels’s work appears or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Willow Springs, Copper Nickel, The Adroit Journal, Ninth Letter, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. Chelsea is the recipient of the Inprint Verlaine Prize in Poetry. She has received grants and scholarships from the Vermont Studio Center and Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Chelsea recently served as Poetry Editor of Gulf Coast. She teaches at the University of Houston and with Writers in the Schools.