Poems of Sorrow: Requiem at Birth

As a birth pushes life from one state to another, so does death.  I shall not talk about souls, spirits, and after life, for these are concepts that I do not understand.  I refer to the transformation that occurs in us, when someone whom we know, perhaps love, dies.  We are pushed from one era of our life to another.  For me, I left my childhood and adolescence in a hospital room.  With curtains drawn, the doctors and nurse excused from the room, waiting for the medications to induce labor.  Rebecca and I were alone, when she contracted and our daughter’s dead body ejected itself into my hands.  Staff charged in, cleaned up the room, made pronouncement, and provided sleep inducing medications.  I sat in a semi-lit corner, head resting on a tray table, and wrote poems of sorrow.  

Morning after
Fatal birth,
Bursting from her womb
In flames of blood.
My daughter is dead:
A mass of swollen, bruised flesh,
Lying in her watery bed.
Quiet now.
Respectful clouds
Take their vigil.
Carrying my child’s soul
Across the sky
And to high mountains
In the East.
The processional continues
As I watch
From my mourning bed.
Time will make these griefs today
Distant shadows
In tomorrows to come.
Our love sustains us
While we rest.
Hope turns our eyes
To dreaming again,
Shining a beacon
Out to the distant possibilities
For which we strive.
Today we have loss
Tomorrow we will gain.
The clouds role by
In their somber march.

Sadly, my idealism about relationships and religion would be challenged in the following months, as I progressed into adulthood.  This is personal life history.  I have transformed many times over the three decades since these events occurred.  But, I can feel the tears when I read these poems.  I have learned to accept tears.  And, in the winter months, I look forward to the clouds of December, for they continue to role by in their somber march, even if only for a moment, and if only for me.  This year, I shall when I watch them, I will think of my cousin, her husband, and elder son, my aunt, and other family members who will express their sorrow in their own time and manner.

Over the past few days, as I posted these poems, my cousin’s family has been receiving messages from friends at the website they set up to celebrate their son’s life (http://alexvasquez.org/).  Given the geographic distance of some of the comments, this electronic medium provides a means for people to gather.  I guess this might be a cyber-wake.  We grieve in many ways and diverse times.  The technology may change, but the quality of interaction and relationship are the same.

Thank you for reading.


About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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2 Responses to Poems of Sorrow: Requiem at Birth

  1. The Vicar says:

    I’m amazed at your ability to grapple with such sorrow at an early age and find words to articulate your thoughts and feelings. Our western culture tends to recognize only positive emotions with the exception being anger. Fear, sadness, loneliness, anxiety often have to be ignored or suppressed to in the name of productivity or to avoid making others uncomfortable. I spent a lot of life believing that optimism was the answer to life’s disappointments, refusing to deal with those unpleasant emotions. What I learned was that those painful times were crucibles to live through rather than pot holes to avoid. It’s in my suffering that my heart grows closer to the heart of God.

    Our lives experience seasonal cycles that don’t always line up with the calendar, birth, growth, harvest, rest. It’s good to sit in the season that life has brought rather than to rush forward hoping to avoid the pain.

    • Oscar says:

      I agree. We condense our emotional states down to “happy” and “angry”. I great exercise is to list all of the other words we have available to describe our emotions. Then, spend some time figuring out when we have experienced these. Then recognize when we are in that moment, neither trying to hold onto the past, or running to the future.

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