Friday, January 9, 2009

Elegy for the Loss of a Child

Remembering an important day. I'd like to dedicate this poem to all those who have lost children. May they all be visited by angels of comfort, angels of restoration, angels of peace.


The Baptism--2007 (4' x 4' approximate)
m. s. e.

Solomon Who (10 January 2002)


Solomon Rey who

twenty-eight years ago to the day

Died.
q
uietly napping
i
n his baby-sitter's bassinet

while the woman screamed

and an ambulance pierced the winter sky

as cars waited at red lights.


Solomon Rey who
l
eft so suddenly
r
ight after lunch while the older children played
w
hile Mama built the missiles Phoenix,


Who loved piano sounds
but not
riding in cars
Who cooed when Mama sang
Who didn't like to sleep

in his crib
m
aybe afraid to sleep at all

Who can't go to college today
o
r talk of poetry,
girls or brothers


But, Who can make you think
twice
about having baby

Who gave me long
love
looks
just days before

I buried my flesh today
i
n a powderbluevelvet casket

while the crisp and cheerful chirps of birds
a
nd while the puffy shimmering clouds

Above the priest
Above the people
in a day in a moment

changed the world


And, Solomon Rey Who,
through smaller threads of memory
i
s fading from detail--

just couldn't stay

10 comments:

Edgar said...

Beautiful, Melinda. I grieve with you. Made me cry.

...God bless all the children, and keep them, and grant those left behind some peace, and some... sense of purposefulness. Your depth and wisdom, grown partly out of this loss, is a balm to the rest of us.

Karen said...

Melinda,
Your poem is so very touching. And the painting, while hauntingly beautiful in its own right, when coupled with the poem becomes heartbreaking, and yet not despairing, for when read in the context of the poem, that baptismal candle becomes, at least for me as its viewer, infused with hope and relief that there is some purpose.

I completely agree with Edgar, that the depth and wisdom that you share with us are invaluable. I offer as proof the fact that this very morning as I was about to scrape a painting, I thought specifically of your post from yesterday, and did not, but continued on, letting the painting take its course.

My thoughts are with you.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

You made me cry too. I agree with Edgar. I feel for you, and it's true that your exceptional kind and loving nature, your poetic vision, and glorious art honour the sorrow you've felt. Maybe this is the sense of purposefulness Edgar is talking about, which is reaching out and touching people right across the world.

Take care of yourself,

Barbara

Melinda said...

Edgar,
Thank you. Thank you for sharing with me a moment of acknowledgment, a lighting of the candle yesterday evening at the San Pedro shrine. To combine it with an art event, too, was sweet and healing.

Melinda said...

Karen,
You're kind words were like a warm cup of good tea.

You are very insightful--the candle, the moment captured in the painting does allude to hope, relief and, to-the-bone awareness that a purpose was served, is served, as each of live out our lives, no matter how much time we have.

It is humbling and gratifying to read that you did not scrape your painting. May you continually go toward healthy, artistic self-love. New elements will have more room!

Melinda said...

Barbara,

Thank you so much for your comment. If we can be of use, then our lives are not merely a consumption of resources, but an edification on which others can build their own platforms, n'est-ce pas?

It is good food for the soul to think that anything that I say or paint can reach and comfort or confirm another artist's experience. That is what you have done for me!

loriann signori said...

Melinda,I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I can feel your deep sadness through your poem. Made me cry. Peace to you. Loriann

Anonymous said...

I grieve with you, Melinda. There is no greater pain to a woman than to lose one of her own children.
12 years ago my 7 year old son, Jordan, was killed in a head-on collision when my father in law was driving in heavy rain. A teenage driver spun out of control.

I don't know how long it's been for you. I know that grief comes in big painful waves with the relief of numbness in between.

This last Christmas I found myself wondering what it would have felt like with all three of my kids around me. The holidays are always bittersweet.

Your poignant poem brought back some memories. It's amazing the details we remember of the last days, moments we got to spend with them. I was filling up water balloons in the color and shape of hand grenades. All three kids took turns running inside to get more ammo from me. We were all laughing.

The painting feels deeply spiritual and for some reason evokes some fear in me. Powerful.

I wish I could comfort you with a hug.

Melinda said...

Loriann,
Thank you for your kindness. It is very comforting to be able to share both the sorrow and the hope that comes out of such a life changing event. Perhaps we can in some small way help one another through unexplainable circumstances--finding beauty in its expression, rejecting defeat by going forward.

Melinda said...

Silvina,
I want you to know that I send you peace and comfort too. I am so sorry for your loss. I had no idea that you have had to carry this same grief.

It is impossible to fully understand why these things happen to us. Sometimes I believe in destiny, but then, I realize there is freewill, accident and the biology of living.

This I know for sure: Trauma is never deserved. We are built for life and, death as we have witnessed it, is wrong.

I'll posit that you'll agree with me that we honor our children when we survive to live fully, being the best moms we can be to our other children. We learn to take nothing for granted.

Until that day when we can see our dear ones again, grieving will be a life process. Don't let anyone keep you from it. And, know that your dear son would want you to continue remembering those sweet and happy moments as you live, make art and care for his siblings. You'll make him proud.