Unbecome

Do you think I unbecame a mother
when my baby died?

At what moment was my title removed?
With my child’s last breath? The last beat of his heart?
When the doctor called his death?

While I held my child’s cold still body,
when I dressed him in his last outfit, and combed his hair,
and told him how much I loved him,
words he could not hear,
was I not a mother then?

Was it not as a mother that I placed his body into a small box,
and lowered that same box into the ground?

Perhaps it was at that moment,
with my child forever beyond my physical reach,
you think I stopped being his mother.

Does tending a grave not count in the same way as wiping mucky hands?
Do the ‘I love yous’ said every day to my missing child mean less than those said to one alive?

Does possession of a second certificate, one recording death,
disqualify me from using the title under which I am listed on that first recording birth?
For it is my name written in that box marked ‘mother’.

Was I ever a mother in yours eyes?
Was it the brevity of my child’s life that makes my motherhood so easy to deny?
Had we left hospital, reached the age of one or five,
would I be counted as a mother then?
Or do all mothers unbecome one when their only child dies?

Perhaps this motherhood of mine is just too terrible for you to comprehend,
and my child’s life, short though it was, must instead be denied.

Georgia Keogh-Horgan



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