How Long O Lord
by Dana Hughes

Because they were DOCTORS she said,
I believed they would help me, believed
in their knowledge, in their experience,
their Hippocratic oath, our common humanity,
for God’s sake.

They saw me arrive full and leave empty
again and again through years of trying
to bring just one child into the world
and they shook their heads and shrugged,
muttering

something about how these things happen,
it’s normal, nature’s way of taking care
of what isn’t meant to be, but after number
nine fell out in the fifth month, it seems they
might have seen

a pattern; done an exam before the end began
instead of after. If my color matched theirs,
they might have said CERCLAGE instead of SORRY
and BEDREST instead of BIRTH CONTROL,
but we weren’t

and they didn’t, and my hands that ache to hold
the one thing in all the world that I would give
my life for are clenched rather than clasped
in prayer as I beg the Lord to forgive whatever it
was I did

to make those babies slip from my womb’s grasp.
I think of Sara, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth,
and wonder how many lives they lost, expelled
in a field or by a stream, not because they were barren,
but ignored.

*”Cerclage”, also known as a cervical stitch, is a treatment for cervical incompetence or insufficiency, when the cervix starts to shorten and open too early during a pregnancy causing either a late miscarriage or preterm birth.

 

About the Poet: Dana Hughes is a wife to one man, mother to three grown and perfect children, a minister, knitter, quilter, potter, and gardner, and who takes delight in arranging and rearranging words like a quilt being pieced of bits of this and that until the pattern appears.

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