She was seven months in you
wrapped snug in your house of flesh
when she came to rest,
turned her face to the dark wall.
Beyond your high hard hope
you knew in your heart that she was gone,
this sliding shift of gravity
in your belly, in your bed.
because this is how she came to you—
there and not there,
a doll baby with eyes
painted shut. Instinctively,
your hands reach out,
grasp at air,
try to pull the light toward you,
into you, disperse the darkness.
A silent cipher, no one
can know what you have lost.
Now she stares at you
with the indifference of the angels
through the paper eyes, smiles
of baby pictures in your obstetrician’s office,
the glazed gaze of newborns nursing
in restaurants at their mothers’ breasts.
One after another, she tries on lives,
in the frames, in the arms of strangers.
She leaves each like a pair
of discarded shoes.
And so you seek her
in the misty maze to which she has retreated,
the shadow flash of dreams,
the sudden sightings of a body,
small and dark as a polished stone,
and as cold.
Left still on the couch,
found wrapped in a box,
she practices dying until it is perfected,
until you find a new way
of holding on.
by Robert Neimeyer, Ph.D.