Coming home, I find you still in bed,
but when I pull back the blanket
I see your stomach is flat as an iron.
You've done it, as you warned me you would
and left the fetus wrapped in wax paper
for me to look at. My son.
Woman, loving you no matter what you do,
what can I say, except that I've heard
the poor have no children, just small people
and there is room only for one man in this house.
i first read her in the american poetry review in the early 70s. it was the first year of their venture & i'd already been blown away by john ashbery & soon, thomas mcgrath. ai's poetry was visceral & spoke plainly & bluntly like someone you'd meet in a dark bar drinking during daylight hours. as troubling as some of the poems were, they never strained credulity. if the outrigger experience taught me anything, it's that some of the most awful things that happen to us can seem so mundane. if i'd paid more attention to her poetry, i might have skipped the direct experience of that truism.
the cover of her first book of poems(my own copy now long gone):
her l.a. times obit here.
more on ai here.