Stephanie Stanley Walls
Published on: 3/25/2013
I'm so sorry is what they say,
And the words pinch away at my flesh;
For I am the one who must comfort them
In their state of awkward, shocked sympathy.
I want to be alone, to cry, and shout at God.
I want to fold into my husband's chest
And sob until my eyes are swollen shut;
But they are here, and I must be strong.
Friends glance across my dining room table
At unopened gifts,
But they don't ask,
And I will not give them back
Because this is my pain,
My hole, my gouged-out womb,
And I will keep these gifts
In return for consoling them in my time of need.
Maybe I will construct an altar,
Or make a burnt offering
With these gifts,
But I will not give them back.
For I now reside in a place
Of unwelcome prestige,
A place whose inhabitants
Soberly sip the delicate moments of life.
For I have seen the beginning and end of time
Flash across my husband's eyes
When he gasped, She's beautiful,
As the doctor shoved him away.
Now I sit among the murmurs
Of well-meaning others.
Their consolations prick me
While I smile
To hear the first cry
That eternity abducted
On the stillbirth-day
Of my perfect baby girl.
Published on: 3/22/2013
The Late Show
The clanging of ice on glass tolls through the kitchen.
Footsteps brush the floor as she slogs
Toward the decrepit couch cushion.
Crinkling cellophane and creaking cardboard
Reveal her companions:
Twenty slender suitors dressed in white,
Each waiting to give her a five-minute sacrificial kiss:
And a distraction from the barren telephone.
With a gale-wind sigh,
She reaches for the lighter and the remote.
Darkness saturates dusk,
As flickering images pummel her blunt eyes.
Lips that once dripped with lovers' passions
Now pucker around the smoldering dry vices,
Filling her chest with
Soot that won't soothe
The cavernous ache.
Muffled babbling wafts from the television,
Attempting to arrest
Her sideways glances
Toward the mute machine,
With a sip of stale scotch-water from a tepid glass,
And a pregnant ashtray to escort her
Across the dull linoleum,
Through the kitchen,
Along the balding carpet,
To her crisp,