National Poetry Month: I WANTED TO WRITE ABOUT THE ALMOST AND THE ONCE by Cindy Beebe

Apr 30, 2014 | Archive, Feature

I Wanted to Write About the Almost and the Once

by Cindy Beebe

 

upon a time my mother almost worked at the Park Avenue Funeral Home. Where she would’ve

styled the hair of the newly deceased

 

population there and even the brand new babies.

Her duties would include, of course, to hold the babies so perfectly

 

formed. Or imperfectly so, and so my mother’s

hands would hold the many infant heads so small as

 

very small melons. Perhaps there would be the fastening of ribbons.

Or bows, with their multitudes of secret folds. Reminiscent

 

of the body, all the bodies, all the dark and cellular

workings underway. Maybe there would be anointing with

 

oils portioned out maybe half a

teaspoon each. For each head, or a little more, for the body, my mother’s body once held

 

two dead babies. No I

don’t mean to say they are dead now. I mean they owned their own human bodies

 

once. They were growing them, delicately around their souls.

To believe this you have to believe in

seeds. You have to believe in continuity and

candles, like those birthday candles you blow and blow and they won’t

 

go out. They were very small though. Those bodies, of those babies my mother once

bore and they were blurry. A little slurred and not far enough

 

along for coffins.

No burial, no preparation for such transitional activities as

 

going to ground, like peanuts

reinserted. Sent back into the earth. So no bows for them, no oils, no

 

stylist, like my mother, my mother, my

mother pressing her nose

 

to an infant head. Breathing in the loam. The loamy scent at the center of

the crown, where the light fell out.


This poem is from issue 40.2. You may purchase a copy here.