A White Room, A Piano
For every thing you have missed,
you have gained something else
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
My lost sons are not a wound.
The doctor did not cut my womb,
he didn’t make me hold them.
Time has stitched the pain.
What is gained in so short a life?
One breath each. Such slight air
wouldn’t ripple a candle’s flame.
I didn’t want to know them as sons,
but the county mailed birth records
to our home: Baby Boy A, Baby Boy B.
A year later in the same white room
where they died, my daughter’s
warm mouth found my breast,
both of us carried into legato sleep.
Now she’s 24. Her self-portrait
in grays and peach and yellow
graces our bedroom wall.
Downstairs she awakens
the piano with Satie’s placid notes.
by Karen Paul Holmes, from No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin Books, 2018)
Cover art by Eileen Paul Millard