never asked

How’s M.? they ask.
How’s that baby? 

And then the barrage:
Is she sleeping through the night yet?
Are you sleep-deprived?
Are you just exhausted?
How’s A. doing?

And sometimes, even,
How are you? 

But never the question I—
absurdly, truthfully—
yearn to hear:
How is Joseph?

Never asked.
How is Joseph?

Never sleeping through the night.
Never waking to nurse.
Never that first smile,
a laugh,
a scootch then a crawl.
Never those first steps.

How is Joseph? I ask.

Never running
full tilt,
head down,
the way little boys are supposed to.

How is Joseph?


The litany of my family—
baby M.—

never complete.

Do you bring up the baby(ies) you lost in conversation? When you talk about your absent children, what do you say? What do you wish others asked?