Note: Because of formating concerns, this poem is better viewed as a pdf: Download My Child
The jaws of silver monsters
disemboweled you, ferocious forceps leaving your tiny
chest eviscerated; mutilated your precious
head, and maybe brain asunder, you wonder
why you were squandered. Curetted craters of flesh reveal
unknown thoughts blackening, festering in quiescent
blood, lost postmen with nowhere to deliver. I quiver
as I purse my lips and blow a gentle wind to fill
your nose. And though your breaths are still,
I still want you to feel how tender air can be
as she caresses the recesses of your empty throat
with a gentle tickle. But life, like the wind,
is fickle. Yet somehow still, we will take
a million more breaths. And this, this is what
breathing feels like, my child.
In my hands, I envelop
your disembodied arms, skeletal and torn.
I try my best to caress what’s left of your flesh so you
know how warmth lingers after fingers have touched you,
and not how silver, slivered serpents have rent you.
I don’t know why I try to put you back together,
you’re not a Barbie to be fixed. This isn’t playtime,
there are no fixes for the existence I’ve nixed.
Into your hips, I dumbly bump the stumps of
your legs as I shift them, animate them,
giving them motion, locomotion with my imagination,
granting them a shade of life. But I’m not a god
and God knows the days and days have pained me. Yet
somehow still, we will ourselves forward to take
a million more steps. And this, this is what
walking feels like, my child.
As I hold your head
close to mine, my tears fall to places
in the spaces above your face, where they trace out
rivulets of silent cries and sighs onto eternally
lidded eyes. I imagine you cooing, sincere with cheer with
a voice that the world will never hear -- an unfinished
melody, a song that I penned, but ended before the impending
chorus. Crimson drops fall into my lap, from living rivers no
longer coursing. My coarse hands rutilant, ruefully stained by
your darkened Spring. I bring you closer, our foreheads nearly
touching. And I touch my lips to your lips so you’ll know how I wish
I could kiss you ‘good night’ every night. But Life is full of
heights and bottomless dips for it knows no scripts, and now you know
that living hurts. Yet somehow still, we will keep trying
a million more times. And this, this is what
love feels like, my child.
Author’s Note: Dilation & Evacuation (D&E) refers to a specific second trimester abortive procedure. The fetus is first terminated with a lethal injection. Instruments such as forceps, vacuums, and curettes are then used to remove the fetus from the uterus. Since the baby may be too large to remove through the cervix, forcible dismemberment of the body is sometimes necessary. This poem is inspired by a true mother’s story, but remains a piece of poetic fiction.
Author Bio: Phil Delrosario is a senior in Human Biology with a concentration in Psychological Development in Children and Adolescents at Stanford University in California. He enjoys writing, making short films, and playing his violin/piano/ukulele and is a protégé of Professor Larry Zaroff. Phil can be reached at pdelATstanford.edu.