the child we lost 1963

There were shadows in the bedroom-
Where the light got thrown by the lamp on the nightstand.
On your mother’s side, after midnight, still…
…You get faint recollections of your mother’s sigh, countryside drive
And the landscape seen from the window of the backseat with some flowers in a basket..
..You recall faintly cards, tiny clothes, and the smell of the paint in the upstairs bedroom-
Until then you didn’t know that’s what the box had held..
…Could only guess inside your head at what a “stillbirth” meant
Only knew that mother wept;

You watched while father held her, said “Some things come but can’t stay here.”
You saw a brightness. Like a light through your eyes closed tight …
…From here, some place
To remain in the nighttime shadows she made.
To be an absence in mom, a sadness hanging over her-
Like some pentacostal flame, drifting on and off.
She was “Sister,” only whispered.
Sometimes “Her” or “The Child We Lost.”..

….After grandpa got hospice sick and he couldn’t fall sleep
They wheeled his stretcher bed beside her at night
And I saw the light-

On the day that he died-
By their bed in grandma’s eyes-
While us grandkids said our goodbyes-

She said “don’t cry”-
Somewhere he holds her.
Said a name I didn’t recognize-
And the light with all the shadows combined.

—  La Dispute- The Child We Lost 1963