Infertility Compendium

We were named witches,
the talked about, the barren,
wombs twisted, possessed
by Nirrti, Goddess of Destruction,
our bodies drubbed by bloody
goat-skin. Unnaturally fat,
tight cervix, weakened
by not giving birth,
they covered us in pessaries,
cumin, resins, and pity.

We had our fertility tested
sitting on the earth,
drenched in beer,
force-fed dates
until we vomited or did not.

Devil poisoned seed.
Wandering metra.
We drank the cures: urine,
the blood of pregnant animals,
ate powdered boar penis,
the hind paws of weasels.

We fasted, took holy waters, prayed
for intercession to our patron
Saint Anne, infertile for years,
who carried the virgin Mary
in her womb—deliver us
from a desolate place,
the palm tree stems are broken,
the leaves brown,
and the silence, oh, the silence.

“Infertility Compendium”: Thorpe, JR. “How We’ve Talked About Infertility Through History.” Bustle, April 14, 2015.

Eleanor Kedney

Eleanor Kedney

Eleanor Kedney is the author of Between the Earth and Sky (C&R Press, 2020), a finalist for the 2021 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards and the 2020 Best Book Awards. She is also the author of the chapbook The Offering (Liquid Light Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in journals, magazines, and anthologies. She is the recipient of the 2019 riverSedge Poetry Prize (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley) and a finalist in the 2020 Mslexia Poetry Competition. Kedney is the founder of the Tucson branch of the New York-based Writers Studio and served as the director for ten years. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, and Stonington, Connecticut, with her husband, Peter Schaffer, their dog, Fred, and their cat, Ivy. Learn more at eleanorkedney.com.
Eleanor Kedney

Latest posts by Eleanor Kedney (see all)

Author: Eleanor Kedney

Eleanor Kedney is the author of Between the Earth and Sky (C&R Press, 2020), a finalist for the 2021 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards and the 2020 Best Book Awards. She is also the author of the chapbook The Offering (Liquid Light Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in journals, magazines, and anthologies. She is the recipient of the 2019 riverSedge Poetry Prize (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley) and a finalist in the 2020 Mslexia Poetry Competition. Kedney is the founder of the Tucson branch of the New York-based Writers Studio and served as the director for ten years. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, and Stonington, Connecticut, with her husband, Peter Schaffer, their dog, Fred, and their cat, Ivy. Learn more at eleanorkedney.com.