Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Mizuko Jizo


On the days she makes amends,
a mother kneels beside her Mizuko Jizo.
There are thousands like it in the temple
at Kamakura, effigies of lost
children--miscarried, stillborn, aborted--
and parents who come there to care

for them. She pours water over the statue
to quench her child's thirst, ties
a sweater around its shoulders to warm
the stone. It takes many hours
to knit these garments when the needles
tremble in your hands,

and your heart feels like a skein of yarn,
unraveling. She prays for safe passage
for the baby's spirit, speaks a name that only
she among the living knows.
Then she rises like a wisp of smoke--
walks away alone.

North Carolina native Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of three collections of poetry, including her latest, In the Palms of Angels (Press 53). Her work has appeared in numerous publications and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net award. She is the mother of a grown daughter.

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Terri, As you know, for years I wondered what the symbolism was of these knitted red scarves,hats,and coats that I saw in Japan while I visited there in 2001. It was a joy to finally discover their meaning in meeting you and reading this work. Great poem!Powerful poem! ~Claudine
Very beautiful. It really flows and shows me wonderful pictures.
This poem is so beautiful, so exquisitely captures the pain and need to nurture the one gone. Mizuko jizo is such an important figure for me since my loss, and I appreciate you sharing this piece with me. Thank you. xo
Captures perfectly our need to take care of our children even after they are gone. Thanks for sharing. Beautiful.
The poem itself, its lines feel somehow Japanese. The heart as an unraveling skein of yarn is a great image--and so apt in this poem.
Beautiful. Thanks you so much.
thank you for helpful tips and simply good info
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