28 June 2010

First Embrace

This post is in response to The Inferno prompt: embrace. It is offered in the hope it will be helpful to another woman who has known the taste of  such regret.


First Embrace

I wish I could say I knew
what was happening in my body.
It is my body. I am a nurse.
The pain was intermittent, insistent,
signaled something wrong with my pregnancy,
sent me to the hospital.
But I'd never felt it before
so I turned on my stomach
to ease the pain as I waked off and on
through the night.

I wish I could say I knew
what was happening in my body as I woke that night
and urgently went to the toilet.
A nurse had put a container covering half the toilet.
"Why?", I wondered.

I wish I could say
I picked up that tiny girl
in the white plastic container,
held her and whispered what I thought:
"I'm sorry I failed to carry you long enough for you to live."

She looked so perfect as I stared at her
but she didn't breathe or move her limbs.
And all I did was stare,
never touched her.
And for every day thereafter
I wondered how I didn't do this simple thing-
embrace my daughter,
name her.

I wish I could say that I told that secret
sought help for that remorse
magnifying my grief,
forgave myself, didn't have guilt
that sleeping on my stomach caused the miscarriage,
didn't have nightmares for years 
about forgetting crucial things.

What I can say
is that it took until I was 50
in therapy over another loss for all that to come flooding back.
I grabbed the chance to do it again,
do it as I wished I had done it then-
hold that baby in my arms
greet her, say good-bye, name her-
name her wish, name her love,
name her free.

Mary H Warren

*Thanks to Vikki North at The Red Chair Gallery for her art piece which so beautifully illustrates this poem and which she kindly agreed to my using.

And thanks to Ruth at Rumi Days for the synchronicity of the Rumi poem today "The Bright Core of Failure" which speaks directly and beautifully to this experience.


  1. There is so much pain in life. And failure. And ruin. You've made something beautiful of it in your poem.

  2. Oh, Mary, this is just beautiful, and so very tragic. I'm so sorry that this happened to you.

  3. Thanks, Ruth. I hope so.
    MP Mama, Thank you.
    Patti, Me too.

  4. i cry every time i read this....that was my sister and yet her death allowed for me to be....i love you mom!!

  5. What a powerful, and sensitive piece!

  6. Kelly, I never really thought about it that way. That perspective shifts my feelings. Thanks and I love you too- deeply and always!
    lakeviewer- Thank you.

  7. Peace to you! I find every year that goes by I remember my Zoe (she left us at 16weeks) in different loving ways for what she allowed to come after her...I never said good bye as much I trust she has been our Guardian Angel when we almost lost Bernadette AND Maryn. God works in amazing ways. Thanks for sharing...


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