In May of 2001 I experienced a full-term stillbirth, laboring with my first daughter, Aislinn Maeve, who died of heart disease with a hole in her left vertricle. I was lucky that the doctor could provide a reason for her death, as I know that the cause of death remains a mystery in so many stillbirth situations. I often think about Aislinn and all the good things that she brought into my life. I speak to her, as one of my guides. She would be 22 years old today, and even though I have come to reflect on her death with much positivity in my life, it also will always occupy a place of sadness for me — a feeling that I do not seek to change. I’d like to share a poem that I wrote called “Mother with Daughter, 2001” in which I tried very hard to remember that difficult experience 22 years ago — an experienced I tried so hard to never forget. In this poem I try to remember how I felt, what I saw…what it was like to hold her for the first and last time.
Mother and DaUGHTER, 2011
I remembered when I held the last body,
her face not perennial, a soft rose whose season had passed.
The stem of her spine laid down in my palm,
as if she could bloom if I gave
her everything I had. The first look I took
at you lingered on your face petals,
ruddy pink-cream and once,
alive. I wrung out all
the unsuckled milk from the cloth of my breasts,
their fibers twisting against an unfolding
mouth, to bring you to life, with soul portions
of flesh to eat as cake. The husk and rind
of my body laid prostrate, a mother
wound for you –
the feast of generations.