Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Few Stray Atoms Brought Back to the Elements

I've been thinking all day on Dana Gioia's "Planting a Sequoia" ( It is a poem about the loss of his son. I've long loved it - thought it to be the best of all of his poems, convinced that he handles with grace the fragility of the moment, contrasting the powerlessness of humanity with the image of his son feeding the roots of a great sequoia.

Tomorrow I will be planting the small remains of our second pregnancy loss. A bit of a morose topic for some, I guess, and something that I admittedly never understood before our own losses. These pieces, these fragments, they aren't a person - I understand that. I won't bury my child but the idea of my child, the remnants of what could have made and supported my child, the future set out in my mind for that child.

When we had our first loss in March, I hung on to my idea that it was strange and foreign and weird and unnecessarily somber to bury the remnants of a not-child. The gestational sac and small pre-placenta that I passed just before 7 weeks was packed up in the trash and I didn't really think about it until 3 days later when the Eagle Waste truck pulled up, its automated arm reaching down mechanically to lift our 90 gallon trash bin and dump it, unceremoniously, into the back of the truck filled with other people's leftovers, dirty diapers, old newspapers, and yard waste. In that moment I understood it was about ritual not remnants.

And so now, tomorrow, we will have our ritual. I will plant our angel child at the base of my favorite rose bush and I will read Gioia's poem - not with a full understanding, but a glimpse, a shard, a shred, my own few stray atoms brought back to the elements.

1 comment:

  1. So, very beautiful. If you've never read it, now may be a good time to pick up "Where the Red Fern Grows".


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