Outside the Clinic by Cassandra Howard

The building is framed
by my car window. I sit
behind the wheel, the motor
still running, in case I change my mind.

I look to both sides—left
then right—before shutting down
the engine. This is an everyday. This
is nothing extraordinary. It need never
be remembered. I open the door
and put one foot to the pavement,
swing my other leg around
and lift myself out of the car,

all my actions kept routine.
This is an everyday. It need never
be remembered. But then,

I hear a woman yell at me.
You have the wrong place. I turn
to face her. She is featureless
from where I stand

across the empty parking lot.
All I can see is her red face, a trigger
for my doubt—to disappoint a stranger
seems sinister. They kill babies

in there. I feel blood
rush to my head, but turn away
from the woman and her sign
to let my face collapse in private
as I walk to the entrance. I turn the knob,
but the door is locked
so the woman on the sidewalk
cannot get in. She hollers,

You’ll never forget this day, almost as if
she were wishing me well. I hear
the door open and step towards it.



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