The Researcher Discovers Anarcha, Betsey, Lucy
Nurses ask me,
“How much does it hurt on a scale from one to ten?”
Anarcha Wescott, Betsey Harris, and Lucy Zimmerman are taken into the care of a reluctant country surgeon in Montgomery, Alabama.
see blood on a white hospital sheet,
tell me I am having menstrual cramps
Betsy’s first birth,
send me home with oxycodone, ibuprofen
Lucy, months out of household duties
after five hours in triage
Anarcha, his first vesico-vaginal fistula
and another prescription
In these three, Sims shapes his speculum, invents his silver sutures, perfects protocol for proper handling of the female pelvis.
we wake at Johns Hopkins,
unanesthesized or addicted to opium, children born, children disappeared. Helpless help.
* A previous version of this poem appears in Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism 11.2. "The Researcher Discovers Anarcha, Betsey, Lucy" and appears in patient., Bettina's debut collection published by Black Lawrence Press.