M. Carmen Lane


I cut my hair first. The realization of her carrying me for sixteen years felt embarrassing. It was enough that I didn’t understand that I had flushed her down the toilet in relief. Perhaps it was the fact that I saw his child being loved by arms that had held me down. He applied pressure until he knew I would be still and unyielding. I put the hair in the rabbit skin for the next day. I went to bed with a tear-stained face and woke up with a large blood clot between my legs. Creator had given me a second chance to do it right. I grabbed up the blood the best I could and placed it in the bundle. Once it was tied, she came and hugged me as large as a she would have been in a body and the tears came. The deer knew I would need to come back. They had taken me to that place where they slept. None of this feels particularly reasonable, but it doesn’t need to be. When she was eight, she tried to crawl inside of me and be born. She didn’t know the process, only where she wanted to be. I bled for years after that. Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. The endocrinologist said I “made too much testosterone.” I used to call it the butch body disease. There is no language for blood that is not born. When my grandmother was dying the hospice staff would not declare it as the truth. A ninety-five year old black woman’s body, dying, could not be believed. White bodies don’t have to deal with this kind of indignity—except for white bodies that are poor. When are they gonna realize their only right is to make white babies? My aunt thought she had taken a shit in the bed and called the nurses to clean her up. I stepped outside but in full view to give her space and dignity and to feel. One of the staff called me inside. “She’s bleeding, do you want to see?” She pulled open the white sheet to reveal large cochineal masses between her legs. It didn’t bother me. My grandmother was talking through the blood. This went on for about an hour—bleeding, cleaning her up, repeat. This body that had birthed and fed five children closing itself out. When I returned home she was waiting for me; a presence so much bigger than her body. I made a bundle, cut hair.

M. Carmen Lane (Tuscarora, Mohawk, African-American) is a two:spirit poet and cultural worker living in Cleveland, Ohio. Their poetry has been published in the Yellow Medicine Review, River Blood & Corn, and Red Ink Magazine. M. Carmen Lane contributed to the Lambda Literary nominated anthology Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literatures. Their first collection of poetry is Calling Out After Slaughter (GTK Press, 2015).