Hot in the Striped Boy’s Heart

It’s hot in the loading bridge, 
hot in the birth canal,
it’s hot in the striped boy’s heart –
we’re two women driving to D.C. for an abortion 
in my beater sea-green Le Mans with the sex,
drugs, and rock ’n’ roll sticker on the bumper.
It’s hot living in my car with the mattress
in the back, the windshield wipers disintegrating
and so it’s raining all the way to D.C. and
my friend is terrified, let it go too long
with a guy she loves but he couldn’t care and
she can’t face her parents. Borrowed money
from the waitresses we worked with,
saline solution for a second-trimester abortion,
it’s hot in the Silverman’s T-shirt I’m still 
wearing from sixth grade with gold and blue stripes, 
hot in the men’s store buying my first real shirt
with my girlfriend Patty. I was a boy then, not 
yet a woman following the sightlines 
from the silver hood ornament to the double yellow. 
Hot in the Pontiac trunk of clothes and boxes and 
the cheap hotel in Silver Springs for the early
morning procedure, two women in their twenties 
out of state for treatment, hot in this traveling altar, 
these bodies run amok. Body of light, body 
of doubles. Body of never telling anyone, never 
seeing her again. Hot in the striped boy’s heart 
in this car dragging home with no talk, 
still bleeding.

Jan Beatty’s fifth book, Jackknife: New and Selected Poems (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017), won the 2018 Paterson Prize. The Huffington Post called her one of ten “advanced women poets for required reading.” She worked as an abortion counselor, in maximum-security prisons, and directs the creative writing program at Carlow University.