Stacie McCall Whitaker - Stone Coast, Maine

Months in Eulogy

Written By: Johnna Ossie

February

The roundness of my stomach
is almost grotesque.
For its emptiness,
for what it once held.
It has no right to be so suggestive,
so promising.

The bath water is too hot, again.
The pot boiled on the stove, and
(the whining of the kettle, unanswered)
carried to the tub, alone,
the pinking of my skin
means nothing.

I could be an old woman
floating above myself
looking down at my stretched abdomen,
swollen breasts,
with a certain pity.
Only we can know the heartbreak–
if only we knew what was lost.

Could I think of the hospital room?
How labor must happen
one way or another;
how a child must be born
or borne.

Think of the nurse who touched my shoulder,
of the gutted shout,
of how I could not bear to look.
What I had made
was maroon in the water.

Think of the water.

If I walk into the waves, the cold means nothing;
the pinking of my skin, again
and again.

April

If I have mourned for your dregs,
what’s left inside me
is leaving now,
with the full moon, again.

Again, the tide rises
the beach disappears,
I look for you in small things;
a palmed blue shell.

The dogs on the shore care nothing for my grieving,
they run to meet the waves.

Still, some things
are too heavy to hold.
How can you bring such an onerous load?
For something so delicate to be so dense
seems almost absurd
and yet,

I picked a small flower
on my way through the park,
with the thought to place it
on your absent grave.
Miniature and pale,
like you, a plumule
bereaved by me alone.

I could be the only pallbearer.
A mother must carry the weight of a son.
I bore the lightness of you
with unthinkable consequence.

Again, I imagine you
fat legged and stout,
running to meet the waves.
My life, balances in that moment.

Leaning into a sunlit precipice
to scan for footprints in the sand.
Small holes bubble, waves recede.

I squint to see you
but you are gone.

June

How, then, do I bury you?
No ash, no coffin, no bones to inter,
only soft tissue, red blood, flushed
down the porcelain hospital toilet.

Upstairs,
in the quiet room—
the hallway dark
outside—
nurses with sorry eyes,
the doctor so young and
pretty.

How, then, do I bury you?
Where is the casket small enough
to fit in the palm of a hand?
Miniature, delicate, fussed over-
a dollhouse funeral.

But- no,
how could I
Fuss over you?
How could I
tend to your ghost?

I go down to the harbor
where the concrete slopes
to the mouth, the soft breakers
at night,
everything gray and moving.

Or maybe it’s blue.

That one afternoon,
I stood on the rocks
at the very edge of the bay,

my stomach churning,
the wind foreboding;
I thought
it was
snowing.

I could have stayed there,
mourning you
unceasingly,
but the engine was running.

I keep trying to bury you
down by the flat rock,
the boat ramp,
the water treatment plant. Think of
the dark blood
the hospital room,
stark and unfeeling,

the long ride down to the sea.

About the Author

Johnna Ossie - Poetry - Months in Eulogy

Johnna Ossie is working on her Bachelors in Social Work at the University of Southern Maine. She is the news editor for the USM Free Press, where she also writes a weekly column about being twenty-five and having too many feelings. She was born and raised by the ocean and currently lives in Portland, Maine, with her cat, Longjohns.