After the blessingway
roses fall from my hair
white and pink – in each room of the house.
We dreamt of this as girls:
flowers braided into our hair.
The artist paints with henna
on my swollen belly:
roses and dragonfly
my skin loose this second time.
My daughter is dying inside me
her heartbeat strong inside me
where she is safe until labor
my womb the sacred space
between worlds: dark and light
contracting for 21 days.
All that, to hold her for a moment,
her broken heart and defects
body limp in my embrace, her blue eyes
and me in this pool as it fills with blood.
I hold her to me and whisper We love you
We love you, We’ll always love you.
Go, I say, do your work, Sweet Baby.
The placenta is birthed and she slips away
so quietly I can’t know the exact moment.
I carry her body wrapped in a blanket with pink roses
for hours, hungry and exhausted, I don’t leave her
until that moment, the coffin on my bed.
Mother and I dress her in her christening gown
and lay her down, arms stiffening
The Master asks What now, Strong Woman?
Then answers Your milk will come in. You will awaken
for weeks listening for cries never made.
And the child? I reply The daughter?
The one I longed for for decades?
—She does not desire one drop of your milk.
With the angels I still weep and cry
Photo Credit: Sindy Strosahl