Yesterday I was walking around Brooklyn on my cell phone and I walked so far I ended up in Big Sur. Who knew Big Sur is so close to Brooklyn? I was like, This has to be the shittiest Big Sur it is so shitty.
I was on the phone with my Aunt Shira and she felt deprived of information as to why I don’t have a baby. I was like, Do you want to know why? There is an Ann Lauterbach poem that might help you understand. It helps me understand maybe a little. She was like, Is Ann Lauterbach Jewish?
The poem I’m talking about is called “Indictment Without Subject” and it doesn’t really help me understand why I don’t have a baby, but it’s a neat poem.
In it Ann Lauterbach uses repetition to convey reproduction in machinelike, rather than biological terms. She writes:
The bourgeoisie tribe makes babies.
The babies cry I want.
The babies cry more.
This is how it learns to count.
Lauterbach’s language suggests that the tribe’s baby-making is a capitalist action: a product of and for conspicuous consumption, rather than a biological urge. They “make” babies like a factory makes a widget. The babies’ first words in the poem are not Mommy or Daddy, but “want” and “more.” Rather than establishing a dynamic of a parent teaching a child, the tribe instead consumes its children by “learning to count” them.
When I think about Lauterbach as a female poet, I wonder how her consumerist portrayal of reproduction reflects upon women as childbearers and mothers? Nowhere in the stanza do we see any natural imagery, conveying childbirth as a biological action. The act of birthing and child-rearing are not described as women’s work, nor is there any joy in the process. Rather, it’s the collective “it” that churns out babies. Any reproductive ineluctability in this poem arrives out of an industrial, rather than a biological basis. The act of making babies—and the paradigm that encourages this as indispensable—is rendered a manufactured social signifier.
Can making art be as satisfying as making babies?
Is it selfish to deny your Aunt a niece?
Is there pressure on female artists to have it all?
Is there pressure on male artists to have it all?
Would you rather feel the pressure to have it all than the pressure to have only one thing?
Do you talk to your family?
Howz your biological clock doing?