the price

I have seen them, gravid
& walking with the honey heaviness
of mothers round as plums,
ripe & stretched over fullness
& eager to meet what kicks
beneath their hands

they have felt fluttering
in the domes of their bellies,
laughed with those turns
& learned new heartbeats
threading under their own,
a welcome otherness

but here, underneath scars
that tethered us
to our own mothers
a threat blooms alongside hope

this close to life death happens. obscene
how bodies break & empty easy as eggs
even in their fruiting

life is cheap
they say & it must be
if it spends so casually
each lost heartbeat
adds up
counted in pennies

& we keep adding
shiny words explaining loss:
religion, cultural context,
mismanagement

how do you tabulate tears
in actuarial tables

i have numbered the bones

ac-
count-
ability

measured in shoulder shrugs
& head shakes
while a woman
who cradled life
in the bowl of her pelvis

bleeds out
drop by drop
slower than tears

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About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
This entry was posted in New Free Verse and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to the price

  1. This has left me speechless! How so painfully well you capture the pains and waste of maternal and child mortalities. (Incidentally, my nephew’s wife was buried yesterday! The baby boy lives on.)

  2. davidtrudel says:

    Beautifully poignant, and Noel, so sorry to hear about your loss.

  3. Beautiful use of language as usual (I must ask you sometimes about ampersands…) :

    “bleeds out
    drop by drop
    slower than tears”

    is especially fine. A poem of two halves, both poignant. Thanks again Susan.

    • Thank you, Paul. The ampersands are not a big deal–they carry over from when I used to write out everything longhand on paper before typing it, and they were my way to keep up with my muse 😉

  4. Leo says:

    Very powerful and heartfelt.

  5. Mama Zen says:

    Incredible writing, simply breathtaking in its power.

  6. ruleofstupid says:

    You are so right – there is a fear behind the joy – from the fragility. I have stood over tiny caskets and the grief is like a second child, swelling the belly, heavy and unnameable, invisible yet immense.
    A really striking piece Susan.

  7. nelle says:

    So complex in one way, so simple in another, a challenge to forces that strip away the essence of humanity and digitise the remainder.

    Wisdom comes when we know the capabilities of each and every tool, when to utilise one, or let it rest. Too often we run with what impresses, exalt it to the detriment of what truly matters. Life is only cheap in the world where artificiality reigns supreme.

  8. So poignant, Susan, heart wrenching words.

  9. I like the fragility and your soulful rendering. xo

  10. feathersproject says:

    Reblogged this on FEATHERS PROJECT and commented:
    To all women who have lost their babies to avoidable circumstances at childbirth. Deep and lucid poetry from Susan L. Daniels.

  11. Reblogged this on visionvoiceandviews and commented:
    We must all join the fight against Maternal and Infant Mortalities. Susan’s poem is one more voice calling for joined up action.

  12. Mournful without cliche. Sad, yet wonderful. Well done.

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