My Sister Who Kept Her Abortion a Secret

My sister Dabney, at my wedding, Houston, Texas, 1985

Photo by Henry L. Finch

My sister Dabney, at my wedding, Houston, Texas, 1985. Photo used with permission.

My sister — the daring, the rider, the dancer —
Whose silence put her in the path of this danger —
Is breaking the heart of my question or answer
Again, as she moves off to death, like a stranger.

She’s spun herself on.  And the poisons that filled her?
The secret that fed her? Those heart-heavy chances
Her life stole and killed until, finally, they spilled her  
Out through the universe? Those were her dances.

No mother has held her — No village will mourn her —
No ritual frames her — Come, help me reclaim her —
Her body won’t bear her again — nor be borne. Her
true name is no secret — and —we will not blame her,

My sister, the daring, the rider, the dancer
Who stepped out, who stepped in the path of the danger.

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Annie Finch

Annie Finch is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Spells: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press). Her other works include Choice Words: Writers on Abortion, A Poet’s Craft, and other essays, books, and anthologies on poetics, feminism, and women’s earth-based spirituality.

Photo credit: Julian Brand


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