The babe was sick when he left
but only slightly as babies do.
He was their first, a strapping boy,
thier farm was large and far from town.
He needed to fish with his neighbors
to salt the cod and lay in stores for winter,
their open dory powered by rowing in turn
while the rest fished open seas far from shore.
When it was the young father's turn to row
his arms felt far too heavy for this task.
He knew it was a sign to direct him
and told the others to take him back.
He knew something was wrong, his wife
had need of him. He returned to find
his small son dead in his wife's arms.
Let me take him, May, he's gone.
He built the casket
from the wood of his land and lay the babe inside
then carried him down the aisle
of their church to ask final blessings.
As he sat next to his young wife
he told her that the heft of the casket in his arms
was the same he felt in the boat,
the sign sent to bring him home.
There were no shortage of such stories in our Irish/Scottish family growing up. This is a true story of my grandparents in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia when they lost their first baby in 1914. My mother was born the following year. The photo is of my grandmother with my mother and uncle.
For Kerry at The Garden who asked us to write about Superstition or Science. This story, like many, falls somewhere in between.