Gothic in design, fluted with knowledge.
She thought through books. The facts were there.
She flashed her library card, dropped her satchel.
The tall wooden catalogue cabinet had tongues.
They mouthed “0” for Obstetrics.
Hush! She carried up the stairs the heavy
text edited by a myriad of male experts.

In a small carrel, she fanned the pages
with nervous fingers. She would work
backwards. A baby’s delivery
threads from Gestation,
to Conception,
Conception to Prevention.

She had to skip Conception because she found
mostly Catholic theology, the Virgin Mary
and Fertility, and, furthermore, she didn’t need
fields or farms, bees or barns.
Miss Zackas, her eighth grade gym teacher,
years ago, wooden
pointer in her hand, the light dim
in the gym, had tapped the slide
projector screen, pointed to the egg’s
path from the fallopian tube to the womb
where it met up with the sperm.

Here were the facts: diaphragms took
a doctor’s fitting and clinical analysis of what
she was doing. Rubbers? Gloves best handled
by males. She was looking only for love
at just the right moment. She realized, as a bright girl
she’d have to be a scientist of The Rhythm Method.

That night dressed in ill-gotten knowledge
and flaming red lipstick, red dress, black stockings,
she purchased two tickets to a Jose Greco show,
her favorite Spanish dancer. On stage, the spotlight
came to rest on a tall figure dressed
in a suit of gray. His back to the audience,
one booted foot crossed over the other.
His slim buttocks, round
and firm, presented only the idea
of what rose in front of him.

Now a woman begins to wail. The stamping
of her feet, a lift of her skirt, his black boots
stamping in response, a stallion about to go wild,
staccato sounds reverberate, the audience
all most out of control.

Later that night she kicked off her black heels,
unsnapped her garter belt, shed her nylons,
and danced into her lover’s hard embrace.
Blood flowed to the floor and flowered.

Two weeks later it stopped and did not come back.
Her library search resumes, this time looking for
references again on Gestation.

Published in Whistling Girls and Cackling Hens, Sandra Larson, Pudding House Chapbook Series,