Lent 10. Child Burial

I almost didn’t share this poem by Paula Meehan, because it’s not really the kind of subject you “share” as such, not without warning.

Don’t read if a poem about the death of a child is likely to upset you (or, at least, if you do not wish to be so upset).

I found this poem very powerful, but I’m not going to talk about it much. I found it in Ruth Padel’s The Poem and the Journey, but the collection it was taken from, The Man Who Was Marked by Winter, appears to be out of print.

It still makes me cry a bit.

     Child Burial

     Your coffin looked unreal,
     fancy as a wedding cake.

     I chose your grave clothes with care,
     your favourite stripey shirt,

     your blue cotton trousers.
     They smelt of woodsmoke, of October,

     your own smell there too.
     I chose a gansy of handspun wool,

     warm and fleecy for you. It is
     so cold down in the dark.

     No light can reach you and teach you
     the paths of wild birds,

     the names of the flowers,
     the fishes, the creatures.

     Ignorant you must remain
     of the sun and its work,

     my lamb, my calf, my eaglet,
     my cub, my kid, my nestling,

     my suckling, my colt. I would spin
     time back, take you again

     within my womb, your amniotic lair,
     and further spin you back

     through nine waxing months
     to the split seeding moment

     you chose to be made flesh,
     word within me.

     I’d cancel the love feast
     the hot night of your making.

     I would travel alone
     to a quiet mossy place,

     you would spill from me into the earth
     drop by bright red drop.

See the intro/roundup.

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2 Responses to Lent 10. Child Burial

  1. Pingback: 40 Poems of Lent: an introduction & roundup | impeus.com

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