Gender Mapping

by Jessie Carty

When the woman at the party
brings up her episiotomy

while starting a slideshow
on her phone

of an infant,
the girl consults

her compass
of context

and determines
that this conversation

is turning medically
messy. The girl already knows

the map of this dialogue
because the girl

has no children,
and the woman

won’t believe
the girl

wouldn’t try
to have some.

“You’re still young; You’ll
change your mind.”

The girl says she has to use the bathroom.
It’s an excuse.

It’s an exit ramp,
but she has to change lanes

to avoid the preacher
who’d already asked her,

“So, do you work outside the home?”
The girl wonders

if she could discuss
religion if she moved North.

She remembers something
from World History

about Catholics living in northern
areas whereas Protestants

predominate the South
in more than one country.

Even so
this assumes

that these questions
of gender

and faith
would change

just because
of geography.

She tries to imagine
what it would be like

to travel down the middle
of some other script,

to follow
some other legend.

JESSIE CARTY is the author of seven poetry collections, including the chapbook An Amateur Marriage (Finishing Line, 2012), a finalist for the 2011 Robert Watson Prize. Her latest full-length collection is Practicing Disaster (Aldrich Press, 2014). She is a freelance writer, teacher, and editor who can be found at