Touching Myself While Pregnant

by Marianne Chan



He and I already did it once, earlier this afternoon,
a swift romp on the mattress that left me light-

headed muttering I need to do more cardio before
promptly dozing off. But after dinner, as he relaxes

for the night in front of his competitive cooking
show, I go to bed alone, stay awake stirring

my own cup. I assumed that in pregnancy I’d lose
some desire, but along with the body, Desire has grown

bulkier. I see Desire’s fuller tits, expansive belly,
pursed and darkened nipples. Even with my child

inside, a constant audience, I feel through the folds
of my skin, remind myself that along with the fetus,

I am inside my body’s deep grooves, continuing
to expand, develop. There are moments of regret

tonight as there have always been during my private
periods of sexual desire, bits of shame leftover

from darker times, a fear that my sex will result
in the destruction of my soul or myself. But I’m learning

to ignore these thoughts. I wish to grow inside me
a healthy brazen love for the self, for a pleasure

whose pulse I can hear through the doctor’s
doppler—its beats are a whirring like the flapping

of giant wings—a life bereft of shame. I want
my watching child to see me, a body that loves

the body, that can hear its voice and listen.



Marianne Chan grew up in Stuttgart, Germany, and Lansing, Michigan. She is the author of All Heathens (Sarabande Books, 2020), which was the winner of the 2021 GLCA New Writers Award in Poetry, the 2021 Ohioana Book Award in Poetry, and the 2022 Association for Asian American Studies Book Award in Poetry. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, New England Review, Kenyon Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Cincinnati.

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