A pall has been cast over your layette.
I sit on the edge of the bathtub, naked.
The double stroller must go up in flames.
I rub my globular belly, wishing I had a map to find you.
Burn half of the blankets, the bibs, the binkies.
When the ultrasound revealed not one but two, I cried.
Twice the bundle, twice the joy.
Always two armfuls of fat rolls, gurgles, and heartbeats.
The nursery became a shrine to the unborn,
as I bought, unpacked, piled, and arranged.
Meanwhile, I grew and stretched and ached.
Then your heart stopped.
And my aches multiplied.
They said your sister lived.
But you had vanished:
“A fairly common chromosomal syndrome.”
Though my body may have absorbed you,
I have not absorbed my grief.
Every night, I bathe almost to dehydration.
When your sister comes into this world,
the loss of you will be final, my child.
Christine Stoddard is an artist from Virginia. In 2014, she was honored as one of the media industry’s top 20 visionaries in their 20s at the MediaNext Conference in New York. Her lit and culture magazine, Quail Bell, has been featured in Time Out New York, The Washington Post Express, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn. The author of books published and forthcoming, her fiction has appeared in The Feminist Wire and Whurk. Her films, collages, and other creations have been showcased in the New York Transit Museum, the Brooklyn Side of Eye Experimental Film Festival, the Annapolis Fringe Fest, and beyond.