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Elegy for an Ex-Lovechild

Jonathan Clark ’16 leans up against a tree in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, his new home.

by J Clark

& how can you deny the intuition of a body that which has become aware of & manifests a

matrimony between two spirits? I retrace to the exact moment my body conceived, especially

when my intention was not to conceive of – to embrace the consequence in concept, but barely

enough to only hesitate at the thought of what protection protects against – the duress under

which you became forged into an unedged diamond, but a diamond nonetheless. as when the

potter torments over the erasure of a smudge or to continue the shaping of that smudge, I

must contemplate a sorcery of my own science if to articulate you within my womb – a tempest

set to a fickle thermostat. & to feel a curse carried by an umbilical cord. to know of a gene’s

marriage to the source from which our trauma sprouts & spreads. this is why you’ll smoke, why

your cells will be a connoisseur of chemicals. but bad habits don’t ask our permission to invade.

they attach like a leech. buries like a parasite. though, I did then what needed needing to save

you, to surrender of me what her body refused to surrender her – an anointing of. the only

polaroid as proof you swam in my blood silhouettes us in black & white – ghosts traced in

hospital gowns & blankets. then she cradles you as natural as if you were born of her own

marrow.

 

Artist’s Statement

“Elegy for an Ex-Lovechild,” germinated from something I read by philosopher, Gilles Deleuze. He wrote, “Elegy is one of the principal sources of poetry. It is the great complaint…the complaint is what’s happening to me overwhelms me. Not (simply) that I am in pain, but what has taken away my power of action overwhelms me. And why do I see these things, why do I know these things, why must I endure seeing and knowing?” As I wrote “Elegy for an Ex-Lovechild,” I internalized this sort of logic, which became what I consider the poem’s engine.

In its simplest of context, this poem begins with a woman (the speaker) processing the emotional, physical, and mental toll she must negotiate while pregnant, during which she is torn between aborting or keeping the baby for adoption. About halfway through, the poem transitions into the woman (the speaker) reinforcing why it was important for her to keep the baby for adoption—to give the baby a chance at life and to give the gift of motherhood to another woman. In conceptualizing this poem’s speaker from said woman’s perspective, the poem probes a deeper level of intimacy and shapes itself by inhabiting heightened levels of interiority through her voice.

J Clark is a 2016 graduate of Moravian College.

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