Two Years, Ablative by Michael Fertik

photo of chocolate cupcake with white icing and lit candle on top

“Birthday Cupcake 1” (image via Flickr user Michelle Grewe)

There are still spots on the carpet where you dripped blood

My Dupont textured Saxony cut pile carpet,

Off-white, like clotted cream oxygenated for an hour.

Three spots left, of the seven

You scrubbed vigorously.

You see? you said. Abluted! You were shaking, cackling.

I can see three when I bend my neck,

And the rest when I bury my nose in the weft.


My bedroom carpet’s pile is forty millimeters tall and fibrously gluttonous

For every stain from the baby, from the blood

The chemical abortion

The one you self-prescribed, smiling,

Like my Z-pack or the hydrocortisone ointment

For my running shorts chafing or for our skin, together, abraded by sex.

“It’s good to be a doctor,” you’d laugh.


Was that why you left?

The baby we didn’t have?

The one you screamed for on Feltrinelli’s absorbent Persian rug,

Murmured for on the rough wooden boards in Kilkenny.

A girl, you said, in Italy. In Ireland, a boy. You threw your head back.

When we are home, I said.


Did you want me to insist, to stop you, to grab the pills?

Or did you want me to chase you, to make sure that,

Like your mother your father,

I would never, ever leave you, no matter what

No matter whose baby?


The spots of blood are

all I have left of us.

Now, now, now, absolutely NOW,

he would be one year old.

Michael Fertik is a published fiction author, poet, and produced film writer and playwright. His short fiction has recently appeared in december, Eclectica, Litro, etc.. His writing has won some fiction and film prizes and includes a New York Times Bestseller. He lives in Palo Alto, California.