13 August 2012

Naming Free


I wish I could say I knew
what was happening in my body.
It is my body. I am a nurse.
Surely that's not too much to ask.
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
to urgently go to the bathroom.
A nurse had put a container covering 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
and all I did was stare, never 
touched her. And for every day thereafter,
I wondered how I didn't do this simple thing-
touch my daughter and
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, tell her of her family and name her-
name her love, name her wish,
name her Free.


This is posted in response to the prompt of Stuart McPherson at dVerse Poets for Poetics: The Beautiful Sadness. I posted this poem two years ago under a different title but have reworked it for this topic because beautiful sadness perfectly describes what this experience ended up being for me.

30 comments:

  1. This is heartbreakingly beautiful. I understand all you have to say in this post. I too lost two babies to miscarriage. At the time, I was just told they were mistakes that didn't make it. I didn't grieve either. I just accepted it as a fate of nature. It wasn't until years later, when a person I knew had a miscarriage and received better, more enlightened help with the experience, that I realized that I had lost something very special and that I had dismissed something just because I was told to do so. I'm greatly comforted by what you have written here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's something we don't often talk about although so many women experience it and could offer solace and make us feel less alone. I'm grateful it comforted you.

      Delete
  2. tears. at rather a loss of words after reading this one...other than it is full of emotion that have now spilled onto my shirt...smiles...really nice capture...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your heart felt reading.

      Delete
  3. Every woman who has lost a child understands this, the guilt, the sorrow, the inability to grieve that becomes stuck inside our bodies, our hearts, our minds. Beautifully expressed and painfully beautiful, exactly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stuck for so long while needing to be experienced in a fuller way. I bless that therapist many times over for the opportunity.

      Delete
  4. I have no words. Beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, I'd not thought of this experience that way before, but "beautiful sadness" seemed to capture it.

      Delete
  5. Replies
    1. Rosaria, we have these sad experiences as humans, and get stronger in acknowledging our feelings to one another and finding we're not alone. You model that.

      Delete
  6. A sad loss to experience.

    ReplyDelete
  7. oh mary...this brought tears to my eyes.. and lost for words..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not an easy topic so thanks for taking the time to read it and be affected by it.

      Delete
  8. possibly one of the powerful things i have read in a long long time. So honest, raw, but human, and the way you write about this tough tough subject is so- almost calm...like maybe you are showing how you have dealt with (i wont say overcome it- im not sure anything like this can truly be overcome)...but its this calmness, your eloquent delivery, combined with the raw emotion that makes this so beautifully sad. This is real, raw life, delivered so poetically....seriously- this blew me away...thank you so much for sharing this

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I appreciate you saying that. It's the first thing I thought about when I read your prompt but hesitated to share it in the fear that it's too personal. But, it was a pivotal life experience for me and for so many women. I do feel calm about it now, all these years later, and grateful for the grace of finally being able to experience the beauty along with the sadness.

      Delete
  9. This is a wonderful poem--so sad and vivid--of course, the experience itself is very powerful, but your retelling of it is so beautiful, and adds a great deal of meaning--it gives the reader something powerful to take away beside the sadness. k.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad because that's what I hoped to convey.

      Delete
  10. Heartbreakingly sad poem here. But I am glad many years later you DID, in therapy, name her, hold her, and talk to her. Thank you for your honesty and openness in sharing this hard experience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I, too, am deeply grateful and call that therapist's name to the universe for blessings.

      Delete
  11. That is incredible. And such a visual I had in reading it. Giving her honor and place yet again. Just incredible. Light to you.

    ReplyDelete
  12. There are no words... As one who has lost children, I can't tell you how true and precious this is. Name her free...


    Exquisite!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you - there's a lot of us out here.

      Delete
  13. I've read many poems that worked well with the theme of this prompt, but yours is the first I've read that I think transcends it, into a place where beauty, love and sadness are equal and indistinguishable. Thank you for sharing a most difficult memory so well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the sheer generosity of your comment. It touches my heart and means so much to me.

      Delete
  14. I should have realized that your depth and character didn't come from a shallow, easy life. This is very moving. Thank you for sharing it.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Ah, you named her! Wonderful.

    I just looked upon mine as another failure, and moved to adoption. I'll need to think about this. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What I've realized is how little help we got in grieving this particular loss well, healthily. So we struggled and did the best we could. You did, I did, so many other women did. Good for us. But when I saw the deeper healing that was possible and got help to claim it, my whole experience changed. It's a beautiful sadness in my life now, and my daughter is named and held in a different way in my heart.

      Delete

Let's chat.