Child Burial by Paula Meehan

Your coffin looked unreal

Fancy as a wedding cake.


I chose your grave clothes with care,

your favorite stripey shirt,


your blue cotton trousers.

They smell of woodsmoke, of October


your own smell there too.

I chose a gansy of handspun wool,


warm and fleecy for you. It is

so cold down in the dark.


No light can reach you and teach you

the paths of wild birds,


the names of the flowers,

the fishes, the creatures.


Ignorant you must remain

of the sun and its work,


my lamb, my calf, my eaglet,

my cub, my kid, my nestling,


my suckling, my colt. I would spin

time back, take you again


within my womb, your amniotic lair,

and further spin you back


through nine waxing months

to the split seedling moment


you chose to be made flesh,

word within me.


I’d cancel the love feast

the hot night of your making.


I would travel alone

to a quiet mossy place,


you would spill from me into the earth

drop by bright red drop.


4 thoughts on “Child Burial by Paula Meehan

      • Hi, thanks for taking that clarification on board. I have to tell you, though, that the poem was originally written in stanzas, and there are no stanza breaks in your version here. The original consists of 16 two-line stanzas. It’s a good thing, that you are sharing a poem you obviously like and respect, but I hope you’ll agree it’s important to respect the poem as written. Poets are extremely careful about form, Ms Meehan very much so, and I know you would want to respect that.

      • When transcribing this poem I did add the breaks. Unfortunately wordpress reformats before publishing to the site. Thank you for your comment. I will try to manually change the breaks.

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