Since You've Been Away
Written by: Renee Emerson
I moved your crib, broke it down
like a ribcage. A desk there now,
a laptop, papers, all good sleepers,
through the night more often than me.
I sent the hospital the ng tubes
twisted up, marked for measure,
the hypafix tape I cut into heart shapes
to keep the tube to your cheek,
the doctor’s stethoscope I pressed
to your chest each feeding to hear
the soft gasp of air in your stomach
telling me placement was safe.
The professional scale, an altar
I laid you on each day. The feeding pump,
its Eeyore song a cry you couldn’t make
for yourself, for food you couldn’t swallow.
But the syringes used until the numbers
wore off, the medications given out in droplet
doses, the specialists numbers, direct lines—
The ICU swaddlers snap-riddled for shot-access,
pin-pricked with blood, the closet of clothes
I washed and folded for when you came home
I boxed up for the basement labeled Never.
In my womb I have another baby, your birthmonth
is marked with busy, and still you never show.
I think about coming looking for you.
You were a good child; you ought to come
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Renee Emerson is a homeschooling mom of seven, and the author of Church Ladies (forthcoming from Fernwood Press, 2022), Threshing Floor (Jacar Press, 2016), and Keeping Me Still (Winter Goose Publishing, 2014). Her poetry has been published in Cumberland River Review, Windhover, and Poetry South. She adjunct teaches online for Indiana Wesleyan University, and blogs about poetry, grief, and motherhood at www.reneeemerson.com.
From Belmont Story Review Volume 7: Witness