Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Objects, Angie

by Angie

Above the drawer labeled
“Objects extracted from people’s throats”
sat someone else’s children in yellow fluid.
Lined up, the children without breath.

Tossing aside petticoats
and other symbols of a youth-imagined beauty,
the daughter poses,
hands crossed against the glass.
Unlike the other babies,
who thought they had to float lifeless,
she sent a wind to wander the halls,
blowing doors open,
menacing the cats who kept the mice at bay.

Tiptoeing around the wax models of skin disease,
on the shelf lined with other children,
a girl, once loved in idea as much as flesh,
bathed in formaldehyde.
Quietly taking in the room,
she smiled at the soap lady, and
teased the wax Siamese twins
who clung to one another three different ways.
She chose her fate amongst the Victorian medical instruments,
extracting the teeth of a thousand pierced skulls.
Her hair looked wild,
a halo of angry black gypsy curls.
From the other side of the room,
her mother sat amongst the oddly shaped organs
And syphilitic skulls watching her live in death.

That one time, when she died,
the girl chose to become a specimen
instead of a daughter.
We stopped the clocks at 5:45
covered the mirrors with blankets.

Her mother wears somber, itchy clothes,
though people think she is an intellectual.
Keening for two years, and silent for a lifetime,
she has black crepe running through her veins,
and a sign above her heart that says,
“Protect from idle talk.”
Yet when the other women see her black clothes,
they speak of their tiresome newborns,
complain of their morning sickness,
take offense at her for not attending elegant parties
with caviar and other dead babies.
Her mother wears fancy objects made of metal and hair,
wanders museums of silence and dust in search of a time
when brave daughters chose a different life
than one with her mother.


about the piece.
In Angie's words, "For some reason, I always thought of stillbirth as something Victorian. It was so other worldly. And I found myself researching and reading about spiritualism and Victorian mourning rituals. My favorite weird place to take people visiting me in Philadelphia is the Mütter Museum, which was at one point a personal collection of anatomical and pathological materials from a doctor in the 19th century. There are drawers of objects found in people, for example. A wax cast of Cheng and Eng, the famous Siamese twins, and the world's largest colon. You can literally spend hours in there looking with morbid curiosity at all the anomalies. I couldn't quite get the museum out of my mind after Lucy died, as though, somehow with her unexplained stillbirth and my obsession with memento moiri, she was haunting the old museum with the other stillborn children. I know this poem is dark and strange, and that is why I like it."

about the contributor.
Angie became a stay-at-home mother in 2007 after many years of working in a corporate marketing department as a writer, editor and creative coordinator. Her poetry has been published in several on-line and print publications. Since the death of her second daughter in December 2008, she has maintained a blog called Still Life with Circles, dealing primarily with mothering and grief. When she is not writing, Angie paints and illustrates mizuko jizo and other subjects dealing with babyloss, pregnancy and parenting at her Etsy shop. Angie also is the editor of still life 365 and has undertaken the Creative Every Day challenge this year, which she chronicles at still life every day.


  1. This poem certainly isn't from the "warm and cuddly" draw like most of mine! "Dark and strange" yes, but powerful because of it.

    It must have been so hard to suffer a stillbirth in those Victorian days. The silence, the lack of understanding, the loneliness and isolation. The pain must have been immense.

    I wonder if you are pushing the boundaries of what is safe for the rest of us? You have a fantastic way with words by the way!

    Thanks for sharing

  2. Love it, Angie! What a rich, lyrical story you've created. I feel inspired!

  3. Perfectly unique and doleful. I agree with livingintherainbow - you mold the words just right.

  4. I love this poem, so dark, but still strangely beautiful.

  5. Wow. This piece is so dark, and it just pulls you right in, and it holds it's own beauty. It is so well written.

  6. Angie! Is it odd to say this is a "lovely" piece? I feel like I'm channeling Emily Dickinson, sitting across from another poet over tea in the middle of the Mutter, spending an afternoon writing there. Just wow. If ever you'd like to republish this piece, I'd be honored to host it on the Kota blog!

  7. wow, angie. there's something both creepy and delightful about this. i think you may have just written the first ever steampunk babyloss poem!

    "protect from idle talk" - that's it exactly. there are days when i'd like to get that tattoo'd on my forehead.

    love to you, brave woman.

  8. Angie, this poem is absolutely stunning.

    Here is how I experienced it: I read it four times in a row before I read the "about the piece" section and then another four times after, and that octet of readings has left me clamoring for a way to express how deeply your words have affected me.

    I just can't do it without repeating your own words back to you.


  9. I am not a huge peotry fan, maybe my feeble mind just can't wrap itself around it anymore like it once was bale, but this piece. Fucking amazing.

    I love the victorian comparison becasue in so many ways I still feel like the IRL people who haven't visited this place in which we all now reside, still very much treat /stillbirth/infant/child loss the same way. Shhh, don't talk about it and it all might go away.
    Everything about the whole experience felt antiquated, surreal, and bizarre.
    Except here, in the blogs. They spoke the truth.

    Anyway, I loved this. Just loved it.


What do you think?