Parting Words

1 min
4 votes

“When the assault on a maternity clinic in Kabul on Tuesday was over, 18 newborn babies were left behind, many covered in blood, and most now motherless. The youngest, whose mother survived, was delivered in a safe room after the attack had begun.”

– The New York Times, May 14, 2020.


Baby, this world is an onion,

its layers of carnage partitioned only

by a few thin, purple walls.

My eyes itched

when doctors cut into the woman beside me

to haul out twins.

They watered

when men cut into the roof

to bring it down around us.


Baby, I felt the world shake within me

as you moved, beating your head against

the inside of my pelvis

like a battering ram

until I opened and gave way to you.

I felt the world shake around me

as men moved against the doors,

forcing the clinic to give way.


Baby, I watched someone

birth a tiny mewling son

in the moments before the shelling.

As soon as the child was cleaned

he was once more covered in his mother’s blood.

As soon as she had wiped the sweat from her brow

she was dead.


Baby, was there even time for me

to deliver the placenta

that slippery lunch box,

your sidecar?

I didn’t have much to send with you

but I wish there had been time to give

what I had:

a name,

a kiss,

a few months’ milk.


4 votes

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Dan Cristol · ago
Elizabeth - your poem is really moving. Keep writing about the things that move you and you will move others.