Deja Earley – Of Thy Womb

My Catholic husband prays
the Hail Mary over the body
of our baby, who has arrived at home—
without warning and far too early.

So early that Sam says
he looks like a boxer,
his tiny fists up to his face,
his eyes like black beads.

I ache for my own Hail Mary—
some mothering, mourning prayer.
I’m emptying, Godless, thinking
of Her as we drive to the hospital,

of Mother in Heaven, wondering whether
half-organized souls ever dissipated,
split from her without warning,
left her in grief.

While I wait to be hollowed I use Father
as a messenger to reach Her, if I may.
But perhaps it’s no use.

She’s not at my bedside, shimmering
in empathetic sorrow when I wake. She’s not
there at the edges of me, or at the emptied center.
But maybe She’s in the voice of the nurse who mothers
me back to consciousness and helps me sip water.
Perhaps She’s in the water, in the stack of white pillows,
in the heated blankets tucked around me.

And perhaps She’s in Sam’s hand
as he passes it over my forehead,
gently as a prayer.

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