This poem is about euphemisms; or, a particular euphemism. I don't think I use them that much when talking about death. I feel quite comfortable saying 'my daughter died' or 'the death of my daughter', and this is about one particular day when I did use this particular euphemism; but as soon as I heard myself say it, I was struck by how inadequate it was.
Walking with my baby in the park and slowing for someone
I hadn’t seen in years, I heard myself interrupting coos
to say, You know I lost my first child, don’t you?
As if there were a possibility she might turn up again,
with my glove or best pen. That a sweep of the sofa
might reward me her hand, then body, pulled from the gap
between cushions. As if all I did was lose sight of her.
That an anxious scan of sand could bring her into focus,
squat and peering at shells. As if I could swear
I had hold of her earlier, that a frantic spill of my bag
would bear lip gloss, chewing gum, keys and I’d be
unable to explain, apologising for my dreadful mistake.
As if one day, I could run from my house, screaming ‘Found!’
Lift her for the whole road to see, shouting ‘Here she is! Here she is! She is here!’
from Her Birth (Carcanet/Northern House, 2013), © Rebecca Gioss 2013, used by permission of the author and the publisher.