14 April 2012

National Poetry Month: FAILURE TO THRIVE

            for my daughter

My daughter grins at me with a smile
not unlike the night-smile of my grandmother,
her day-smile in a glass on the bathroom sink.

It's one of the "Concerns,"
one of the by-the-ways mentioned
in the midst of lack of growth,
weak trunk,
slow development of gross motor skills.

The doctors use that phrase that stamps knots into mothers' stomachs:


that accusation I carry
from appointment to appointment,
the knot that remains,
test after test.

"She seems normal," it is said,
but there are hints that give it away:

The watch her play pat-a-cake.
(I see the slight lack of control in her frantic clapping.)
She flashes a smile.
(No tooth to be seen.)
Her wild pixie hair adds personality.
(And hides the soft spot that isn't closing quite fast enough.)
She scrambles across the floor, desperate to keep up with Brother.
(Her knees too wide as she crawls.)
When Brother climbs up on the couch, she turns her attention to the blocks.
(She is resigned in her inability to stand.)


I carry it with me, just as I carry the
handmade mint green blanket,
a gift from the hospital's pediatric ward.
Each next appointment promises answers,
brings more tests and evaluations and referrals:

But each next appointment begins with hope
that this appointment will be the one to replace
a list of symptoms with
            a Diagnosis.

And still, despite my fears, I am greeted each day with outstretched arms and
a wide, pink smile.


  1. Thanks for sharing this lovely and moving poem! You and your children are in my prayers.

  2. "The doctors use that phrase that stamps knots into mothers' stomachs"

    ...is very powerful and intense!


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