Auckland New Zealand
A couple of weeks ago, I was inspired to write this piece, having read Rosemary J. Gwaltney's poem about her visit to her child's resting place. I was moved, not only by her courage, but also by the replies she received.
Of course, I am not aware of Rosemary's particular circumstances, but I have done my best to include elements to which most people, especially bereaved mothers, can relate in some way.
For you Rosemary, and for the millions of mothers who have known the same agonies you have had to endure. It is my sincere hope that you may find some small comfort in this poem.
Mute hangs the winter’s icy chill
Grey morning mist lies bleak and still;
And silence, like a spectre, reigns;
Save footfalls, where the snow remains.
No breath of wind greets frosted bough
Suspended, it is ghost-like now.
Ethereal, its woody fingers
Rake, but still the cold fog lingers.
Bereft of reason, paused in time,
The mourners in their grief combine.
As callous clouds of anguish smother
Family and weeping mother.
And none will deign to hide or mask it,
As bearers bring the tiny casket
White, wreathed, adorned with Cross of gold,
It nestles in their careful hold.
Beneath the stand of mighty oak’n
Ash, the words yet to be spoken
Tumble through the Vicar’s mind,
His task... the saddest of mankind.
As all in sombre bonding stand,
The scene knows neither time nor land.
And all here present feel its breath;
Its iceberg touch..... its kiss of death.
Its tendrils, dark and sinister
Encompass all....... the minister
Takes solace in a silent prayer,
And begs the Lord his burden share.
Thus all in sorrow stand around
The waiting void of new-dug ground
Its earthy walls.....its cold embrace
A desolate, unfeeling place.
A dozen faces, gaunt and pale
Give echo to the mother’s wail;
For, if the choice were theirs to make,
Each one, the child’s place would take.
Remote, the numbing second thrives,
The little coffin then arrives;
Such hanging pall of grim despair
Defies the human soul to bear......
A mother’s pain, that tears apart
The very sinews of her heart
Which shrieks the plaintive, searing cry
“What have I done? - for God’s sake WHY?”
So sudden - in her darkest hour
A vision blossoms like a flower!
A portal dark, with light is gifted.
A Damoclean sword is lifted.
She sees green hills with sparkling waters
And countless million sons and daughters.
Creeds and colours of all ages.....
The book of life’s unopened pages.
The partly written page, unfinished,
The postponed parchment, undiminished.
And those for whom all teardrops fall.....
The ones which have no words at all.
There’s no disease, no lies, no hate,
For these remain at Heaven’s gate;
They know no pain, they voice no cries,
A love-light shines within their eyes.
She’s drawn towards a quiet brook
A white-robed form with shepherd’s crook.
His gentle manner strong, yet mild,
And, in his arms, her little child.
In that brief instant, time was stilled;
Her heart with warm contentment filled.
And, in His light, she found the power
That e’er sustains the unknown hour.
Reality again returns,
Though in her heart the vision burns.
Its everlasting, hallowed flame
Restores and dignifies again.
With tear-filled eyes, and hands that shook,
The Vicar gently closed the Book.
From his right hand, a dusty curtain
Falls, in hope that’s sure and certain.
Then radiant breaks the morning sun;
The vanquished mist flees at a run.
As silver spangled jewelled beams
In dancing yellows, golds and creams
Shine warmly on the little grave,
The snow, its thawed surrender gave
In melting yield, its remnants grooming
Crocus flower and snowdrop blooming.
She wonders if it’s all a dream..........
The Shepherd’s crook..... the shining stream?
Whose attestation brooks denial
Within the nightmares of her trial.
Her ears discern a call.....a sound!
Her gaze, on rising from the ground,
Beholds, poised on a limb above.......
...........A solitary snow-white dove.
Her wings unfold, with grace she glides,
Then o’er the little grave presides;
Divine, her presence signifies
This child in full salvation lies.
In glorious farewell, she flies
To silver sun and sapphire skies.
Redemption’s herald, winged and white;
The candle.............. in a mother’s night.
©2000 Rod Walford