The push to pierce
my abdomen kissed
by a constellation
of yesterday’s injections,

all the hormones
drunk by my body.
The ultrasound wand
penetrating, searching me

to find two orbs.
The counting of spheres –
5 follicles in the right ovary,
3 in the left,

4 of them larger than 12 millimeters,
the follicles like eyes,
like ophanim.
Distended to the size of limes,

my ovaries could torque
like the twist in a carnival
balloon shaped by a clown.
I am not supposed

to bend, jump, or twist.
I bare my forearm, squeeze
my fist for a hormone-check:
Estradiol, Progesterone, LH.

I walk slowly to the market,
my womb swollen from drugs
and 9-parts despair,
1-part hope. I lie on my back

at night, trying not to move
when I sleep. Above
the house, Horologium’s
faint stars quiver

in the shape of a clock.
I submit to my regimen.
We count my follicles
every other day:

12 in the right ovary,
5 in the left, 1 follicle
larger than 18 millimeters,
the black eyes multiplying,

growing on the ultrasound,
my abdomen so heavy
I don’t walk to the market.
My love mixes the new

morning drug, ovulation
antagonist, piercing
my abdomen with the long
needle to puncture me

for the 21st time. My ovaries
distend to the size of grapefruits:
6 follicles in the left ovary,
13 in the right, 2 follicles larger

than 18 millimeters. Horologium
counts down the hours until
the egg retrieval: 38, 37, 36:
the trigger shot Lupron boring into

my abdomen to force
egg maturation. I read
message boards, scanning
other women's counts:

TTC since 2015, Trying To Conceive
1st egg retrieval June 2017,
1 fresh transfer – BFN Fresh Embryo Transfer 3 – 5 days after egg
retrieval; Big Fat Negative
1st FET September 2017 - BFN Frozen Embryo Transfer

2nd FET November 2017 – BFN
2nd egg retrieval March 2018
1 fresh transfer – BFN.
I accept their blessings

of sticky baby dust,
visualizing myself moving
through shimmering organic
matter in time

to Horologium’s metronome.
When I wake, I am ready
for the doctor to suck
my eggs through the long

needles piercing my ovaries –
punctures #38 and #39.
Will 26 hormone shots
+ 6 ultrasound penetrations

+ 10 blood draws
+ 1 anesthesia needle
+ (1 egg retrieval needle x 2)
+ my love’s sperm

be enough? I lie on
the operating table.
The anesthesiologist
tells me to count down.

Francine Rubin

The Counting

Francine Rubin is the author of the poetry chapbooks If You're Talking to Me: Commuter Poems (dancing girl press), City Songs (Blue Lyra Press), and Geometries (Finishing Line Press). She is online at