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Poetry Pleases: Caitlin

John Ayling's poem plumbs the depths of despair, yet also expresses an inextinguishable joy.

I had a smile upon my face
A rictus of a smile which
would not go away.
We held hands,
My daughter and I.
Sitting on the low bed,
While the doctor said
All the right things
According to the text book.
Repeated carefully
Said he was sorry.
We were too numb for questions.

Somewhere, at a normal desk,
A phone rang. Someone laughed.
The baby fought restlessly
Each breath
a small determination.

The nurse touched my hand.
She would come back,
Answer the questions
we could not ask.

When they had gone
We wept,
our arms around each other.
Her head on my shoulder,
She wept for her baby
I wept for both of them.
Somewhere far off I felt
My mother weep for me.

Later I held the baby,
Tiny, far too thin,
Each heaving a small
Determined victory.

Then she smiled at me
And the joy of life
Was in her smile.
And the whole, inexpressible
Joy of life
Lay in my arms.

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