Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dirge


I dreamed that I adopted a little boy.
He was my son,
and we were bonded to each other.
I dropped him off at a day-care place,
and before I left
I rushed up to him asking for a hug
at the same time
he rushed up to me asking for a hug
and we laughed because
we had both asked for that
at the same time.
Someone said, “Is that your son?”
I said, “He’s my everything.”
I woke up and he was gone
and had never been anything.


This morning I searched through my purse
for my phone, thinking I had left it at home.
I thought about how it’s my watch,
and my newspaper,
and my camera,
and my communicator,
and my record player,
and my calculator,
and my dictionary,
and my notebook.
I mumbled, “How could I forget it?
It’s my everything.”

When you’re childless and long to have a child,
you have pictures of other people’s children
all over your house:
a co-worker’s daughter holding a “Thank You” sign
for buying Girl Scout cookies,
yearbook photos of nieces and nephews
in frames,
Christmas cards.
The artwork of other people's children
hangs on your fridge.

I had a life inside me once.
Its story is more impressive than your child’s.
It was conceived in the Himalayas, and was with me
walking alone through the Doha airport at 4 a.m.,
a layover on the way home,
while my sick husband tried to sleep
in a fancy lounge.
It was with me when I was Dolly Parton for Halloween,
before I knew it was there.
It knew life and it knew death.
It knew more than your kid who’s on the Honor Roll
and on your asinine bumper sticker.

The Internet says my would-have-been-a-baby
at five weeks was the size of a sesame seed.
One night at a diner I opened a menu
and saw an entrée covered in black sesame seeds.
I thought: how tiny you were.
I thought: I could have seen you.
I could have held you in my hand.

When did I lose you?
At which point, in all that blood, were you there?
Precisely which toilet flush
was your funeral dirge?

After you were gone I tried to replace you
with trinkets.
A necklace. An ornament for the tree.
Everything angels, or angel wings.
Heaven kitsch.
But I don’t believe in heaven, or angels.
“I was pregnant and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”
Wish You Were Here.
I am a mother of tchotchkes.

I woke up and you were gone.

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