April Poetry Month: the mother
I have a lot of mixed feelings about abortion. I'm Catholic, feminist, parent, pro-science, pro-consent, aware of the serious impact children have on lives, aware of the stigma of pregnancy... on and on. Again mixed feelings and thoughts...
Anyway, when I started collecting poetry books to look at this month this poem, about abortion, was one of the first one's I read. I wasn't going to share it because it seemed too...Well too raw.
Except that it has stayed in me. I have thought of this poem several times since I originally read it. When poems stick with me I pay attention. Whatever you think of abortion this poem is powerful.
It is by Gwendolyn Brooks whose books and poetry I love more than I love peanut butter.
Abortions will not let you forget.
You remember the children you got that you did not get,
The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,
The singers and workers that never handled the air.
You will never neglect or beat
Them, or silence or buy with a sweet.
You willl never wind up the sucking-thumb
or scuttle off ghosts that come,
You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh,
Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye.
I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim
I have contracted. I have eased
My dim dears at the breasts they could never suck.
I have said, Sweets, if I sinned, if I seized
And your lives form your unfinished reach,
If I stole your births and your names,
Your straight baby tears and your games,
Your stilted or lovely loves, your tumults, your marriages, aches,
and your deaths,
If I poisoned the beginnings I was not deliberate.
Though why should I whine,
Whine that the crime was other than mine?--
Since anyhow you are dead.
Or rather, or instead,
You were never made.
But that too, I am afraid
Is faulty, oh, what shall I say, how is the truth to be said?
You were born, you had body, you died
It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried.
Believe me, I loved you all.
Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and i Loved, I loved you
Brooks, Gwendolyn, Selected Poems. Perennial Classics, New York. 1999. 4