All the living people have their own hearts

All the living people have their own hearts

Functional hearts that beat and slosh their blood through brain and vein

Angry hearts betrayed, broken, wreaking havoc, taking names

Troubled hearts pounding for the pain of strangers

Retentive hearts for memories of rain and safety

Faithful hearts given away with the promise of eternity

Treacherous hearts twisting burning too soon turning

Playful hearts that invert an empty eggshell in its cup and invite their mother to tap it with a spoon

Wistful hearts trembling for midnight and the moon.

My other children grow and speak in different voices

With words I didn’t teach them

And explore their complex hearts


But my daughter’s heart with all its potential for infinite variety

Stilled in my womb and never had expression

And that became my lesson

To live another’s heart and cells and memory

To write her death in all its vile potency

To understand that I’m her only legacy

And there could never be enough

Money to honour her

Voices to speak of her

Or babies to save for her

The world in its entirety could not satisfy her loss

It rests with me to somehow be worthy of her precious heart


And so I end and start


This is my last post for Glow. I often think of my writing as part of Iris' legacy. How do you feel about creating a legacy for your baby or babies? Do you do something "in their name"? What does that mean to you? 

Holding On


You are as fond of grief as of your child.


Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;
Then, have I reason to be fond of grief?

King John III.iv, William Shakespeare


I love the thought of ghosts and lingering souls

Spirits present, dark shadows with intent

I don’t fear eerie noises or the cold

Air shivering in our ancient vents.

And as I want my living children to

 Fulfil their full potential so I wish

For silent Iris to turn poltergiest

Possess my house and lightbulb filaments

Or leave me gothic portents where she can

Prevent calamity or incident.

More than only ash at least, more than

Dust and tears for my lost innocent.

I still hold on despite advice and proof,

Can one let go of nothing? Empty air,

Would she drift off to haunt another womb

If I moved on and left her memory there?

I’m ever fondly constant in my grief,

It must go on, it must go on for her,

There is an odd betrayal in relief,

That loyal in my love I shall abjure. 


How do you feel about the possibility of "moving on"? Do you want to?

Double cherry

When we were


I told on her

And another one of

Our friends for

Being slightly


About my

New blue blazer.

She was in my class

Very smart

Straight A’s

All the way.

Like me

She struggled

With her body image

Like me

She had a wild heart

That loved the wrong men

Like me

She was ambitious, strong

Worked long, rose high

Like me

Her baby died

And as I stood by her side

As she said goodbye

I wished that we were


Has anyone close to you also had a baby or babies that died? How did that affect you in your own grief?

Dead babies from the time before


Baby Cosmo


When I was


They made

A documentary

About him

We saw his image

On the screen

Of a 30 pound TV

But of course

He never breathed

And we just saw

His ghost on our



He wasn’t the

First dead baby

I had been

Aware of, grieved

My cousin William



The womb of my

Uncle’s wife

While they were

Far away

Unseen by me

But missed

And wondered over.

I imagined

Her hurt

Felt something

Approaching empathy

Although I was

Still young enough

To find the whole

Birth thing

Faintly obscene


And then another loss

Not mentioned

To me personally

And so I will not speak it here

It is not mine

To share

But I was aware

And felt keenly

The broken dream

Of another family


And then some weeks before

My baby died

I spoke to my friend

About her infant brother

Lost just days after

He was born

And we mourned

For him a little

In the car

On the way to work

I remember as we turned

Onto the road

With the lovely violin shop

On the corner

That I felt a sudden


I just knew

That one day I would know

That feeling too

I didn’t realise it would be

So soon,

That I would come to

Speak with such


About small corpses

And their consequences


But those four came before

When dead babies were a rarity


What was your experience of babyloss before your baby or babies died? When you heard their stories did you ever imagine that it might happen to you?


In a departure from my usual style for Glow in the Woods I have written and recorded a poem. You can hear me read it here:


Do I sound sad?

Can you hear it in me?

When I utter banalities

Or common courtesies

About inclement weather

Or paying bills, or other

Everyday utilities

Is that all I’m saying to you?


Or do your ears twitch at

A catch, a crack

A different quality

So “Tea or Coffee?”

Comes with neither milk nor sugar

But rather a side of

“Your choice doesn’t matter to me because neither will bring my dead baby back to life”

Or when I ask

For someone to email me some


Does my reply seem to be

In some kind

Of dolorous code

Thanking them for

Distracting me

From my melancholy?

Or when I say

“A return ticket to the city please”

Perhaps you’d be aware of the silent addendum

“Not that she’ll ever return to me… because she’s DEAD”

(These are all thoughts I’ve had by the way

So please laugh at me and

My ability to



And generally


The grief-pudding-of-my-eternal-sense-of loss

Some things deserve derision

Occasionally. Maybe.)




Four years out

My subtext

Has truly



I no longer

Shout my pain

In every word

I even talk about

Sad things

With an air of

Warm reassurance


Then I eavesdrop on myself


A fragment

Of my voice

On someone else’s

Answer phone

Or notice something

Alien in my

Sister’s tone

That used to be so

Similar to my own

But now seems

Less familiar.


And I hear it plainly.


The sound

Of ancient


Rasped across

My vocal chords

And I wonder

How it’s possible

That people can

Hear me speak

And not weep?

How anyone can

Ever answer me

Without their own

Remembered grief

Bursting out

Until we are all wailing

At the sky

Sorrow’s choir

Swelling loud

Out out up

Wildly shaking the world

Hurling us about

So we’ll never

Forget her or anyone!

Lost names thunder

Against the horizon

And burst the

Eardrums of the lucky ones

Windows shatter

The plates of the earth

Shift and grate

Teeth rattle

Trees are wrenched

From the soil

Violent noises

Siren voices

All around


Until it seems

The ground would yield up

Her dead.


Is that how I sound?

Is that how I sound?

Or am I only sad in silence now.


Do you have a grief radar? Can you hear it or see it in other people? Do you think they feel it in you?