top of page

Seeing Red

Poem by Dakota Parks

Published in Inweekly, 2022

Her face is crimson,
spaghetti sauce and strawberry purée Pollocked across both cheeks
highchair smeared with baby handprints
like a talcum-covered car bumper pushed
in neutral by tiny phantom hands across
Crybaby Bridge.
The Texas newscaster steels her jaw,
ruby red lips parsed,
as she reports an 11-year-old survived
by smearing her dead friend’s blood across her face
playing dead like a opossum while police twiddled thumbs
and children smudged
their final bloody palms against the linoleum floors
crying out for their mothers
My god,
how I fear for her future—
In Walmart, wire hangers are on clearance
discarding corporate culpability
formula aisles are still empty
condoms and Plan B under lock and key,
pharmacists deny birth control refills
as women’s bodies are
dissected like a game of
Red states electrifying
the scarlet nose of Cavity Sam
as men poke and prod
those surgical tweezers
between our organs
stripping back the flesh
of sovereignty—
Less autonomy than a corpse
consenting to organ donation.
America slips into recession
while less than 20 percent of women
have access to paid maternity leave.
64 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck—
Only 53 percent of Americans can handle a
$500 emergency without worry.
The average cost of an abortion is $500 before travel.
In Ohio, legislators denied an abortion
to a 10-year-old rape victim,
a child
forced to carry a child
before the blood of her first period
a child
forced to cross state lines for an abortion
a child
Uncle Sam, your hands are soiled
Blood stained
That accusatory finger pointed
deflecting moral responsibility
Our babies born addicted to fear of babies*
            when will our children
            be children again?
*A line from Kaveh Akbar’s poem, “The Palace.”
bottom of page