An Ode to My Foetus

Poem by Jyhene Kebsi

She stares at her belly 
She touches her belly 
She talks to her belly 

Sinking whispers, agonizing whispers, choked whispers: 
Will you curse me  
when my vagina ejects you out into this life? 
When you will be doubly “illegal”? 
In Australia,  
you are the “illegal” child of an undocumented mother 
In Syria, 
you are the “illegal” fruit of his crime 

She stares at her belly, touches her belly, talks to her belly 
Will you curse me because I hate you? 

She stares at her belly: 
I declare you dead. 
As you move in my uterus,  
I will read your mourning ode 
I wrote it for you: 
Do not come. Stay in my belly. Die in it 
Instead of pushing you out,  
my vagina will block you inside 
My vagina will push you towards my stomach, 
Stay in my belly 
There, you move freely in my uterine water 
Here, you will be in prison 
In my womb, you move 
Here, you will be static 
Inside, my powerless body protects you 
Outside, you will be dead.  

She stares at her belly, touches her belly, talks to her belly 
I am in pain and refuse labour pain 

I want to vomit you out, 
And burp. 
Burp the colonial waters of detention, 
I want to burp you up 
And listen,  
listen to the music of burping you out 
the music of burping him out 
the music of burping exotic Arabia out 
Will your face look like his face? 
Did this question haunt Abyan? did she hide from it? did it stifle her, strangle her? 

I want to vomit you out, 
even if you are the way to Racistralia 

My “illegal” foetus, 
My tragedy made me a poet 
In my Ode to you,  
I sing that 
I squashed my belly,  
the way your pregnancy squashes my breasts 
In my Ode to you, I sing that 
I hate and have to hit you 
In the heat of that hot day, 
I hit my unhealed belly hard, 
harder, harder, harder 
But you did not die 
I hit you more fiercely 
But you did not die 
I bit my arms, pinched my belly, squashed you, 
But  
you did not die 
God, when will I die? 

***

Jyhene Kebsi is a Lecturer in Gender Studies at Macquarie University. Before coming to Macquarie, Dr. Kebsi worked as a Teaching Fellow in the English Department at the University of Sydney. She also taught at both the University of Western Sydney and Saint Thomas University in the United States. Dr. Kebsi’s research and teaching focus on transnational feminism, globalization, postcolonialism, asylum and world literature. Dr. Kebsi is the recipient of multiple prizes and awards, including Fulbright. 

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