Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Cardinal, Sara

The Cardinal
by Sara

they say he passed in the night on a whim,
or maybe he was conjured out of me and sent to live in thin air.
three days gone only nature could quell the ache.
a small cardinal was perched on a branch nervously fixed in my direction.
i begged silently: "let it be my boy."
let him get close enough so i can see the puffing of his chest,
the quickening thump beneath his feathers, rhythmic like the morning hiccups in my belly.
did he feel life independent of my body?
i wanted to know he saw glittering lights beyond the clouds,
he touched the trees and was blinded by fog.
he felt weather, cool air.
he had memories of water.
he dodged the rain.
he sensed danger in man's machines and was deafened by contraptions.
living above, he marveled at how we look like simple automatons,
scurrying about like ants on a schedule.

the cardinal inched away.
no whistled confession arrived,
my insides felt more empty than the moment he was yanked into that fluorescent light,
laid down like a floppy doll.
our blood spread across the floor like an abstract streak on a blank white canvas,
a table of sharp silver was mottled with red.

for fourteen hours i held him like a sarcophagus, stony and shocked.
a hardened vessel immobilized by a catheter feeding numb to my spine.
with no sense of urgency the nurses shuffled into the room wearing their most serious faces
and the doctor spoke of options like a funeral director.
i wondered how many coffins she had pried open.
how many sleeping babies found their way into her arms?
three days later these were questions of no importance.
birth, the consummate beginning, had been absurdly preceded by death.
basic dates were reversed,
essential words redefined.
the future became blank.
all of my middle chapters were torn out and thrown into a river with my stygian womb.

december's sun lost its strength and the cardinal departed.
a breeze played the sterile branches,
they rattled like the hollow toys he was supposed to hold.
i am a wasteland,
a childless mother,
an origami woman who was folded into grief and half-crumpled by death's harsh hands.
my boy is ashes in a box on my headboard,
his only experience of life was the sound of my muffled heart and stirrings.


about this piece and about the poet.
I wrote the below poem about my son Lawrence. He was born still in the third trimester on December 15th, 2010. I don't have a blog and this has not been submitted or published elsewhere. I'm a 33 year old single woman in Kansas. I'm not a poet and I doubt this is particularly good form-wise, but it's the only thing I've written that fully explains the experience of his death / birth. -Sara


  1. This took my breath away. Beautiful~

  2. Amazing, heartbreaking words.
    I am so very sorry for the loss of your son, Lawrence.

  3. I think this is beautiful. I'm so very sorry for your loss.

  4. So clear and powerful Sara. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and love for Lawrence with us. I am deeply sorry for Lawrence's passing.

  5. What a powerful poem, it's beautiful and so heart breaking. Thank you for sharing this. I am sorry for your loss.

  6. Very raw, poignant, real. I could feel the emotions you went through as I read. Thank you for sharing and BIG hugs to you and your loved ones.

  7. I am deeply touched by your poem. It's beautiful. I'm so sorry for the loss of your baby boy. X

  8. I think this poem was perfect no matter what form you used. Thank you for sharing your feelings with us in such a pure fashion. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  9. Just beautiful! Thank you for sharing your heart with us!

  10. this was amazing. so very eloquent. if you had a bog i would certainly be reading. thank you

  11. I am so sorry for the loss of Lawrence. There's a heartbreaking honesty to your poem and it's an amazing legacy of your love for your son and the deep, deep pain of being a childless mother.

  12. The title of this caught my eye for I associate cardinals with my son.

    Oh, the ache, especially in that last stanza. Thank you for choosing to share this with us.

  13. This is positively beautiful. I am so sorry for your loss.

  14. So raw and beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I'm very sorry for your loss.

  15. wow. beautiful. and heartbreaking. thank you for sharing your story in this poem.

  16. this is perfection.
    i'm so sorry for your loss.
    it's terribly heartbreaking and honest. i know i'm simply repeating the previous comments, but it's all i can think to say.
    this poem is just amazing.


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