How Long O Lord

Because they were DOCTORS, she said,

I believed they would help me, believed

in their knowledge, in their experience,

their Hippocratic oath, our common humanity,

for God’s sake.


They saw me arrive full and leave empty

again and again through years of trying

to bring just one child into the world

and they shook their heads and shrugged,



something about how these things happen,

it’s normal, nature’s way of taking care

of what isn’t meant to be, but after number

nine fell out in the fourth month, it seems they

might have seen


a pattern; done an exam before the end began

instead of after. If my color matched theirs,

they might have said CERCLAGE instead of SORRY


but we weren’t


and they didn’t, and my hands that ache to hold

the one thing in all the world that I would give

my life for are clenched rather than clasped

in prayer as I beg the Lord to forgive whatever it

was I did


that made those babies slip from my womb’s grasp.

I think of Sara, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth,

and wonder how many lives they lost, expelled

in a field or by a stream, not because they were barren,

but ignored.


© Dana Hughes 4.18.18


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