A visit from The Healing Muse: 'When the Breathing You Hear Is Your Own'
Deirdre Neilen, PhD, shares a selection from Upstate‘s literary journal, “The Healing Muse,” every Sunday on “HealthLink on Air.” Neilen is the editor of the annual publication featuring fiction, poetry, essays and visual art focused on themes of medicine, illness, disability and healing. Read The Healing Muse Cafe Blog.
Today‘s selection is "When the Breathing You Hear Is Your Own" by Ann Howells. Order your copy of “The Healing Muse” today.
Deirdre Neilen, PhD: Ann Howells is a poet and editor whose poem "When the Breathing You Hear Is Your Own" is about a mother's love for a lost child. She begins with an epigram from Linda Gregerson: "We had not loved you half so well, had we not loved ineptly."
My uterus had superpowers,
a chrysalis, to contain him as he developed
lovely wings. I went to bed
imagining his laughter. He spun my world
when he dropped, heavy in my belly,
like a star plunging from the sky.
If joy were a leaf, he would have been
sunlight. If joy were an agate
he would have been coral hibiscus.
If joy were a snail he would have been
a meadowlark, fat and filled with song.
He existed beyond joy.
His name hovers in the air
like butterflies above marigolds.
Baby in the tiny casket of my heart --
ghost I visit in light, ineffectual sleep
littered with failings.
What if are unendurable words,
and I am a fragile being.
Pain has turned my scars, my years,
white and hard. I listen as earth moves,
watch stars spin. Sometimes,
I speak of death, the act of dying.
Each child I carried lives in my heart,
even the one I lost.