Empty Hands

Wed 04 January 2017
By John Mark Schofield in Poetry

I held my wife's hand
as the needle went into her
seven-months pregnant belly.

Two days before:
Your baby's not breathing.
Your baby's not swallowing.
Your baby's not moving.
And a baby who does not
or swallow
or move
does not start doing those things once born.
We'll give you some time to think.

I held my wife's hand as the needle went in.
Seven months of belly kisses.
Playing music,
all for the belly. All to the belly.

All gone.

I held my wife's hand when they induced labor.
When the contractions started.
When the epidural went in.

I held little Holly in my hands.
Still warm from her mother.
But not moving.
Not breathing.
Slowly cooling.

There's some of Holly's ashes
buried under a tree we planted
in the back yard. Holly's tree.

But most of her ashes
are in a box.
In a closet.
In our house.
Because we couldn't bear to part with them.
Couldn't bear to let them go.

Couldn't let them out of our hands.