gestating vampires: four poems

A fisheye, solarized appearance image of a person with a bob haircut and a staff blocking a black shape. The image is blue, pink, red, black, and white.

 
 
Audio transcription.
 

 
 
The following selection of poems was written between March and June 2020, kindled by my personal experience with unwanted gestation during quarantine. While I faced tumultuous access to free and safe abortion in Lisbon during that period, news of several international right-wing movements proposing restrictions and blockages to reproductive rights began surfacing every week. These poems helped me find a grounding voice, echoing embodied reflections on reproductive health, voluntary termination of pregnancy, contraceptive justice, queer gestation, and futures of reproduction beyond gendered bodies.

 
 
***
 
 
Hole Again
 
In January
I was given a book of poems
By hiromi hito
And her dead babies
I think this one might be for you

In April
There wasn’t anyone on the streets
So I got it removed
When apartments vanished
the family was ghosted
And time lost track
Of the nuclear

This tomb found by Lara Croft:

Biological
propagation
Viral
reproduction

I didn’t text the lump
At the private office
with the giant bear at the door
Keeping plague

on its fur
Only futurologist girls allowed
the smell of infection
Down the basement

I called over a mother
It was a snail
Gave those walls a clean
With reincarnation

 
 
***
 
 
i’m baby
 
one of these days i lived on earth i thought i saw
everyone as a baby

the ticket inspector was a baby
the botanist was a baby
the gravedigger was a baby
the poet was a baby
the museum cleaner was a baby
you were a baby

there are moments in time
in which enough is enough
too much is too much
so they clog up in my throat
and i’m lost to speech
like babies

i’m baby but what i really mean is
i don’t know if I want to understand language
or
i don’t know if our language makes it harder
or
i don’t know if what i really wanted was to give it up
language, the sun

why be next to just one star
if you can be among many

i’m reminded that in a recent work i wrote

it feels good to live in company

feels good because it is hard
work
the partner, the species

when they are born
babies are forced into company
before they are forced into language

and to die is to begin again

babies do it all the time

 
 
***
 
 
I saved this poem for later
 
I saved this poem for later

For

three weeks I was silent

Like a bag

One day

I found out my body could carry
And I was never so sure of not

being, woman

The hardest lesson:
We live in a time when
Biology is behind Technology

I know a lot of things that should be aborted:
Man,
Bureaucracy is the hardest pregnancy.

The body is hard politics
Soft and bio and wet is a lie
Updating
on pills and hormones
plants and cures
from my cabinet
i choose none

This blood in my pants
Could breed a vampire
To suck on
the doctor
the law
the wall of babies
at the hospital

The aftermath:
Reproduction kills
A person many times throughout their life

Murder is to speak over someone
else’s body
and its parasites

 
 
***
 
 
Grimes visits the Merck factory
 
1.

‘2019 and all’s well’
I love to make word
It looked pretty on you
You look so pretty
In capture

I asked where
the disposable tube went
The one attached
to the medical vacuum
That sucked out
the fetus

It was flushed
into the ocean you said
With blood clots inside and everything
“Your parasite has poisoned
an eel
But we’re keeping that
to ourselves”
 
2.

Grandmother left the countryside
For progress
Biological crops remind her
the labor
of making life grow
without hormones

She got a job
At the factory of a
German
pharmaceutical called
Merck

Like mercury
Like mercantile
Like mercy
That gave her the pill and lung disease
 
3.

the factory had low ceilings
Of women struggling
to keep their hair
Who never had a holiday
but for one time in a month

One day my grandmother’s blood
stained the car seat
of her boss
Who gave her a lift

She couldn’t come
to work
if she was
on her period
it spoiled
the medicine
 
4.

At that point the pill took me back
Mercilon by
Merck
That my grandmother made
This morning

She used to crush it into my
baby milk
And I loved that part of the day
Cartoons watching

the hormones
Tasted of software
And mom
Made me grow a limb
to stop the egg halfway
Baby
Drink your milk
 
 
 
 
Poems by Alice dos Reis
Header image by Kiona H. Niehaus and Alice dos Reis


Alice dos Reis is an artist living and working between Amsterdam and Lisbon. She holds a Masters in Fine Art from the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam and has exhibited widely in galleries, institutions and film festivals across Europe, the U.S. and Australia.