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Sleep My Love

A poem

Photo by YUCAR FotoGrafik on Unsplash

Let me hold you as you weep,
child
, you are too small to feel pain,

Sleep, my love, my arms hold you
now can comfort you, so sleep

In years to come, I can’t protect you
let me take you in my arms, sleep my love

Grazed knees, broken toys, I’ll hold you
I mend, I kiss the wound
, sleep my love

The sound I make soothes you to peace
in time to come, 
I won’t be able to fix it all

Sleep, my love, while you can, in my arms
my heart walks around me inside you

So sleep now, my love, sleep, my love

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Angel

A poem

Photo by Diego Rosa on Unsplash

The layered bridesmaid petticoat
you wore as an angel, no, fairy,
everywhere we went, wand and wings

To me you are an angel, no, fairy
in my mind before your birth
feely came with you everywhere

Feely got irretrievably lost one day
my woebegone, sad angel, no, fairy
a lion so soft arrived, you named him Niamh

You are no longer small in petticoat
you wore always, my angel, no, fairy
so I am homesick now my angel

I smuggled Niamh into the wash sometimes
you waited for him to smell just right
held to your face, my sweet angel

I’m homesick for driving around to find Niamh
before him, feely, my angel, no, fairy
homesick for you my sweet angel

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Sharing this poem…

  • My Mother and Lucille Clifton Have Tea Parneshia Jones When I get to where I’m going
    I want the death of my children explained to me.

                                                 —Lucille Clifton

    They meet over tea and potato chips.
    Brown and buttermilk women,
    hipped and hardened,
    legs uncrossed but proper
    still in their smiles;
    smiles that carry a sadness in faint creases.
    A sadness they will never be without.

    One asks the other,
    “What do they call a woman who has lost a child?”

    The other sighs between sips of lukewarm tea.
    There is no name for us.

    “No name? But there has to be a name for us.
    We must have something to call ourselves.”

    Surely, history by now and all the women
    who carry their babies’ ghosts on their backs,
    mothers who wake up screaming,
    women wide awake in their nightmares,
    mothers still expected to be mothers and human,
    women who stand under hot showers weeping,
    mothers who wish they could drown standing up,
    women who can still smell them—hear them,
    the scent and symphony of their children,
    deep down in the good earth.

    “Surely, history has not forgotten to name us?”

    No woman wants to bear
    whatever could be the name for this grief.
    Even if she must bear the grief for all her days,
    it would be far too painful to be called by that name.


    “I’ve lost two, you know.”
    Me too.
    “I was angry at God, you know.”
    Me too.
    “I stopped praying but only for a little while,
    and then I had no choice. I had to pray again.
    I had to call out to something that was no longer there.
    I had to believe God knew where it was.”

    “I fear death no longer. It has taken everything.
    But should I be? Should I be afraid of what death has taken?
    That it took and left no name?”

    The other who sighs between sips of lukewarm tea
    leans over and kisses the cheek of the one still with questions.
    She whispers…

    No, you don’t have to be afraid.
    Death is no more scary than the lives we have lived
    without our babies, bound to this grief
    with no name.
           Copyright © 2019 Parneshia Jones.

I am sharing this poem as a mother. I taught my daughter to be independent, to not allow anyone to touch her in a way that makes her feel uncomfortable, to tell someone if a conversation makes her uncomfortable. I taught her how to use public transport, to go to school and other places on her bicycle, I taught her how to drive. She used to ride her bike with friends to a jetty and spent summer days jumping into the sea, they rode bikes in woods, they did water sports. My daughter did two Duke of Edinburgh Awards and excelled in them.

I knew I was teaching her to live with danger, and did my utmost to equip her for danger. My worst fear is to be told of her death, or serious injury. The is no name for a parent whose child has died.

I once wrote a poem about the non existent rooms in a courthouse. There are Ladies and Mens Rooms but no room named Raped, Husband Murdered, Child Killed, and other descriptions of unspeakable pain.