Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
To Mis-Carry

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"I want her back when you're done."
They will toss you out, flush you down.
They won’t know to stop when my Grandpa's eyes –
like sky – are there.
And your nose? They won't know.
That's your daddy and sister –
right there!

"I want her back when you're done."
Forty-five minutes of waiting
stacked next to the three months
I carried you.
The brown hands of a nurse handing me hospital Tupperware.

"I want her back when you're done."
Tucking you right there in the safety of me.
Self-preservation not letting me look,
but little by little my warmth breaking through coldness.
Carrying you home to the wood of our kinfolk:
Loblolly tall and Maple wide.
Scrubby Oak to decorate your spot
with acorn crowns.

"I want her back when you're done."
Your daddy – muddy with earth –
Your sister and I searching the hills and
bases of trees for marble quartz.
Sweating out our grief that day.

"I want her back when you're done."
At church it starts and keeps up
through five hymns.
Two creeks flowing, meeting up
at my chin and falling into two open palms:
waiting for the Good Lord to dry them up
so we can pass on dry land.

"I want her back when you're done."
In the by and by.


Elizabeth Steiner is an English teacher on hiatus. Her writing mostly studies southern and military life with “To Mis-Carry” being her first poetic publication. Her goals in 2017 include pursuing the publication of a collection of poems that explore motherhood through the themes of miscarriage, military life, and family legacy.


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This is poignant and beautiful and absolutely heart-rending.
Beautiful and strong.
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