writing while grieving

I am starting to write again, after losing our unborn son Shepherd a few months ago. It has been slow going–a few minutes here and there, a long, very long, time spent on a single poem. Writing has always been a helpful way for me to process and take note of my emotions, to process what happened, to understand it. But I have found myself avoiding it for a few months, not ready to get back into it again. I didn’t actually–it came back to me in the waiting room for a follow up appointment. There have been so many times I have said, Well, now is the time I will stop writing, but it does always come back.

new poem in Cumberland River Review

You can read my poem Night Vigil in the latest issue of Cumberland River Review; this poem is about the last night I spent with my daughter Kit before she was removed from life support (about two years ago exactly). It is an intensely emotional and personal poem for me–it touches on but can’t completely tell you what that experience was like. Some things are beyond poetry.

poems that know

I schedule out my posts–all of my posts for September and October were written before we lost our son Shepherd in late September. I didn’t consciously know that he had passed away in the womb, since there were no signs, but looking back over these posts, it is strange to see what I was writing about at the time. So the following post was written a few weeks before he passed–I’ve decided to leave it as is.

Rereading Keeping Me Still (my first book–written in 2014), I am struck by home many poems are about losing a child.

I lost Kit in 2019, but this poem more fully encompasses the experience of being in a high risk maternal fetal medicine fetal echo than the run-of-the-mill OB checkup:


They ground and drank the bones of kings
in Nineveh. Swollen, I too learn we and submerge
an ocean, capsule, holy vessel.

Brimming, divided heartbeats like misplaced commas
sectioning the lace of my insides.
Moths, despite the darkness,
batting wings against the pane.

In the examination room,
the whitecoats and glasses press
the stethoscope, cold to my belly, and hear nothing.

I make a cat’s cradle with the loose ends
of this and do not ask, and do not ask,
until I watch the heart blink back
yes, yes.

There are more poems like that in the book, and in my next book too. B says its my subconscious picking up on things that I don’t fully register with my conscious mind, but I think I was just writing about my deepest fears, one of which being losing a child, which happened to, later on, happen.

Maybe I was writing about Kit before she was even here.