I wrote this poem 12 years ago for a child who died at 8 months of age. The current trial of Kermit Gosnell, however, brought the poem to mind, as I thought of the birthdays that will never be had because of Gosnell. And while this poem will for every other day of existence still be for the child I wrote it for 12 years ago, today it is for the infants who died at the Women’s Medical Center under Gosnell’s hands.
I woke today feeling a tightness, a constriction in my womb,
like the final moment before birth
when a new life enters the world—blue, wet, screaming.
Today would be your sixth birthday.
A small hand holds up five fingers,
the other tentatively extending one more.
“I’m six today,” you say to strangers
as we walk to pick up your cake
topped with candles, awaiting your wish.
Dreaming of ice cream and Legos,
you forget your manners and stick a finger into the cake.
I shake my head at your silliness, never stopping
to kiss your nose,
swing you up high, or think
that you are here to have a birthday at all.