Monday, May 4, 2009

As Published In Connections - "When I..."

My introduction for the Connections reading:
Poet Lucille Clifton wrote a poem called "the lost baby poem" in which she speaks to her unborn child, her "almost-child," and thinks about the life it would have had if it had been born. If you believe, as I do, that life begins at conception and that we are all "fearfully and wonderfully made," then the loss of a child, even an unborn child, is a tragic loss, made all the more painful if the child was wanted and loved. I have several siblings who were lost in utero, and I've seen firsthand the very real pain that surrounds the loss of an unborn child.
On the other hand, I am reminded of a line from one of my favorite musicals, Steven Sondheim's "Into The Woods," where a not-so-wicked-witch reminds us that "wishes are children." Children are symbols of endless possibility, unrealized potential, and those of us who have not experienced firsthand the loss of a child have probably nourished a dream, a wish, that became so real to us that we felt we could touch it, "take it in [our] arms," only to wake up one day and realize that that dream was not to be.

When I
exhausted, weary beyond endurance,
fell into my bed, and my head hit the pillow,
I dreamed of a dark-haired babe
with eyes like hazelnuts,
dimples like the dips in chocolate candy
who laughed when she saw me, that laughter
reserved for the one called "mother."
And I took her in my arms,
my heart warm,
and kissed the downy head,
felt the softness of her skin against my own.
Then I awoke, suddenly, confused,
wondering at the ache in my empty arms.

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