It's impossible to know at the start
how long you'll last, but that's no
reason not to start. Everything is
busy being born and dying, why
I once walked into a room that
held a tiny casket that cradled
a body six months old.
The father's name was Tom
and the last name King,
though looking at his wife
it was clear the kingdom was gone.
There had been a developmental birth issue
I'd gathered, moving around the room.
These were people I barely knew
at the church. Their baby failed to thrive.
Very rare, yes. Voices from all corners
of the room, yes, yes. Such a shame.
Heart goes out. She was six months
but looked ten weeks, she had doll's eyes.
Tiny, dressed in pink, with doll's eyes,
Unmoving, distant, fixed. Dead.
I don't know why I thought of her.
Baby King. That night, I had hugged Tom
and mumbled some words. He sat next
to me in choir. He was a mechanic.
He'd worked on my Triumph, fixed the
AC, did some rewiring. I didn't know
his wife. I left the room. There was
nothing more to say.
I thought of Tom today,
when you and I were texting
and you told me you
knew what I was thinking, what
I was feeling. How? I asked. How
could you know? Because we were in
a relationship, you said. I know you.
I know you, and you know me,
but did we know what we'd birthed?
And where is it now, what tiny room
in what distant corner—oh, the questions
are horrid. Where did it go?
What killed it? I don't know.
I don't even know where to visit.
The old ones sing: we cannot care for you
or cradle or listen for your cry;
but separated by silence, love
will not die.
We cannot enroll you in kindergarten,
watch you grow
tall and strong, through middle
years and higher, your first love,
or drive you to college, or hear you
say to us, it's OK, you can leave me now.
I'm trying to sit quietly with this. Kate
called, and that was a small good thing.
I tried to tell her I was OK but she wasn't
buying it. How did I get such good friends?
I'd say to Tom now, and if I could, to his
wife, that there is one who cradles all
creation, where we come to rest at last.
Where we may place that which is dead in us,
but that your baby is beyond death now,
alive in heaven above. Your baby, I'd say,
breathes with your breath.
All rights reserved.
he not busy being born is busy dying...
when love dies--
the ragged way we fall out of love