my mantra since our baby died.
My husband cannot hear the screams
I bury in the basement walls
or divine what my half-smiles mean.
Four years ... he’s numb to my despair.
I despise the peace he has become.
We take our boy’s ashes everywhere –
his sisters are convinced he wants to go.
They travel-sticker every inch of cherry wood
and entertain with how they rescued turtle eggs
hatching in Los Cabos sun and cheered the ape
rocking her newborn in San Diego’s zoo.
How they giggled at male elk bugling for mates
across a Rocky Mountain field and fed
fistfuls of hay to nudging goats at 4-H.
Seven and three, they talk to him as much as they talk to me.
Two girls, one boy, I always say.
When strangers – like the woman on the plane
or the couple moving in next door – seem confused
seeing only two, I seize the opening:
Two years old. In our arms. In our bed.
If curiosity invites, I explain his rare disease
and how we prayed to keep him warm.
What I won’t admit: I lock my bedroom door
and trace his outline on our sheets
a dozen times a day.
* * * * *
"Hollow" is part of Carolyn Martin's forthcoming collection The Catalog of Small Contentments (Portland, OR: The Poetry Box, 2021)
From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Her poems have appeared in more than 125 journals and anthologies throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. Her fifth collection, The Catalog of Small Contentments will be released in 2021. Currently, she is the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation.