Friday, April 25, 2008

Lost Love

I took a memoir class in my junior year at MECA with professor Claude Caswell. He gave us many powerful writing exercises including several "free writes." One morning Claude told us to do a free write on the topic of lost love. "Write about lost love for 30 minutes," he said, and he set the timer.

Lost Love

My heart is beating



Write about lost love

he says.

All I can think of

and how

I lost the little girl

that she was

that day

in sparkling summer.

She'd been ill

and was feeling better

then awoke

that morning



I don't feel good.

I laid her on the couch

and gave her some Tylenol.

Twenty minutes later

It happened.

She was grey

eyes rolled back

the whites of her eyes now yellow, moist

a faint clicking in her throat

her body stiff


I yelled to Garry

to come.

Call 911

he said

and somehow

I did.

Waiting on the front steps

for the ambulance

the word epilepsy


in my head.

The ambulance.

The men carrying her out.

Garry rode with her

I followed

in our car


oh god


this is not

how I want to grow up

The ER.


on the stretcher

they'd cut

her pink summer shorts

in half


down her throat

And Garry.

leaning over her tiny body

her shiny white blond body

her perfect pink six year old body

her blue eyes



(The Fuck)

was happening

wanting to turn and run away

Garry saw it in my face

and said


c'mon Mart.

I walked to the cot

where she lay

and I


to sing to her.

I sang all the lullabies

I'd sung to her

when she was a baby.

I knew what my job was


Years later I would dream that Lisbeth was just an egg

an egg that I could hold in my hand.

The doctors came in and said

that they

could re-attach her head


I saw them look at each other



I saw them do that.

And all the king's horses and all the king's men

couldn't put Lisbeth together again.

Kaitlyn and Lisbeth at Mount Hope, 1987
pastel and oil on Rives BFK, 22" x 30"
collection of Edna Simmons

Kaitlyn and Lisbeth, 1987
pastel, oil, charcoal and pencil on Rives BFK, 22" x 30"
collection of Robert Johnson


Susan Beauchemin said...

Tears in the morning--it doesn't matter how many years go by...

martha miller said...

Yeah, I know. I think Anne Lamott wrote about grief, "The break heals, but afterwards you always walk with a limp..."

artslice said...

Heartbreaking... the scariest thing someone can imagine - any harm coming to your child.

artslice said...

ps you have a beautiful family!

martha miller said...

yes, it's right up there at the top of the list of worsts.

i do have a beautiful family - and they are all amazing individuals.


Anonymous said...


this poem is so powerful. I'm in tears--out of nowhere.
Thank you for sharing so much of your heart and mind. you are a really wonderful communicator and an inspiring prolific artist!

martha miller said...

thankyou, anon

we all have a deep well of tears. life is hard! as my son andy says, "poop occurs." it is a good thing to prime the pump and a have a good cry every so often...

thankyou for your feedback - it's my aim to try to connect with others - to feed my own muse and to (hopefully) feed yours!