Sunday Poetry: Stillbirth, by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

Stillbirth

On a platform, I heard someone call out your name:
No, Laetitia, no.
It wasn’t my train—the doors were closing,
but I rushed in, searching for your face.

But no Laetitia. No.
No one in that car could have been you,
but I rushed in, searching for your face:
no longer an infant. A woman now, blond, thirty-two.

No one in that car could have been you.
Laetitia-Marie was the name I had chosen.
No longer an infant. A woman now, blond, thirty-two:
I sometimes go months without remembering you.

Laetitia-Marie was the name I had chosen:
I was told not to look. Not to get attached—
I sometimes go months without remembering you.
Some griefs bless us that way, not asking much space.

I was told not to look. Not to get attached.
It wasn’t my train—the doors were closing.
Some griefs bless us that way, not asking much space.
On a platform, I heard someone calling your name.

— by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

It’s crazy to get on a train to look for a child you lost at birth 32 years ago, right? Yet this poem puts me there, and helps me understand the permanent grief, the unhealed-by-time wound of a mother of a child named but unraised.

I had never heard of Laure-Anne Bosselaar before this morning, when, after creating the sidebar panel to the right listing the poems I’ve written about in my dormant Sunday Poetry series, I decided to try something new. I chanced upon this poem, and visited her website. She helped edit an anthology of poems about “the nightspots, hotels, bars, greasy spoons, and similar refuges from the demands of daily life and the feelings, thoughts, and sensations they bring out in us” – thanks to the miracle of Amazon, it will be in my hands soon.

But back to the poem. Notice the intricate structure that holds it together. A lesser poet would have hoped that the sheer emotional impact of the subject and the reader’s natural empathy would draw us in. Bosselaar, however, plants sentences in our head and repeats them as our own memories. It’s a wonderful piece of writing – painful, intimate, and thoughtful. To me, the lines I expect will stick are “I sometimes go months without remembering you.
Some griefs bless us that way, not asking much space.”

Blessed by a grief that still has enough power to suspend your rationality and have you enter a train to seek a 32 year-old version of your dead infant? Is that a blessing? Only in the sense that she can sometimes go months without consciously remembering Laetitia.

We all have our Laetitias, and we all have triggers in us that can make us react in ways we can’t rationally explain. Laure-Anne Bosselar’s tight poem puts that into words.

5 Responses to “Sunday Poetry: Stillbirth, by Laure-Anne Bosselaar”

  1. Thanks for such kind words and such heartfelt attention to my poem — I’m grateful to this amazing thing called the internet that we are, in some small way and for an instant, connected through poetry. How great is that…

  2. gonemild says:

    Thank you for visiting my site! I’m honored!

    I really enjoyed your poem, and have been reading more. Plus, I got your restaurant anthology in the mail – can’t wait to read more of your work and the work of others you deem worthy of selection.

  3. [...] to write about living, breathing, internet-alive writers. Poets know how google works, and they sometimes come by and comment, or email me. So far, nobody has threatened a copyright lawsuit, or, much worse, brought to life my [...]

  4. [...] night, I found this poem in the Night Out poetry anthology I mentioned buying when I wrote about Laure-Anne Bosselaar’s Stillbirth. It’s funny to poetry about a place you have visited – it adds importance to a place [...]

  5. Pat Reesby says:

    I belong to a small local writing group and the poetry assignment we’ve set ourselves for our next meeting is a pantoum. I’ve been reminded of your poem, which I’ve loved since I first read it. It always moves me to tears as I can relate to that wistful yearning that goes against logic. Thinking for a moment that we see someone who couldn’t possibly be there. A beautifully put together and very subtle pantoum.

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