Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Walt Whitman

I live about a two miles from where Walt Whitman currently resides. He is buried behind the Dunkin Donuts, before the Route 130 traffic circle. In New Jersey, there is a poet behind every Dunkin Donuts.

I drive by Harleigh Cemetary often. Someone always cuts me off at the forced merge approaching the sign with his wild beard staring at me. I center myself and think, "A great poet lives there." Garbage strewn on the sidewalks, and among the chaos of a five way stop, I take a moment to think about beauty, and writing and poetry.

Today is four months since Lucy was born. I feel her so deep within my belly, so immersed in my being, that it as if she has always been my daughter. I feel as though I have mourned her for a lifetime. I remember when I first started reading blogs, still grotesquely postpartum--bound, weeping breasts, so tender I was...a great deal of babylost mamas I began reading then had just passed the four and five month marks. So, perhaps that is why this one is hitting me so profoundly. Before this month, I thought of this day as another of the many days of the month that I would cry for my daughter.

But when I began reading what these other women were going through, I remember asking myself this litany of questions:

Where will I be in this grief process in four months?
Will I be trying for another baby? (Uh, not even remotely close to there yet).
Would I still howl everyday?
Would commercials still make me lose it and throw things at the television?
Would my daughter be saying Lucy's name as much as I am?
Would I have hair?
Which friends are still going to be here, which friends are going to be gone?
Will so and so ever call me? (no.)

Maybe it is just that the rawness is not so raw, and the acute pain of Lucy's death is not so acute...but deep deep within me the grief has settled and made itself at home. Comments from yesterday were so so appreciated. I devoured them between painting in the sun, and being outside with my beautiful family.

So, for today, I want to quote some of that Federico Garcia Lorca poem that I love on this day, Ode to Walt Whitman

Not for a moment, Walt Whitman, lovely old man,
have I failed to see your beard full of butterflies...
Agony, agony, dream, ferment, and dream.
This is the world, my friend, agony, agony.
Bodies decompose beneath city clocks,
war passes by in tears, followed by a million grey rats,
the rich give their mistresses
small illuminated dying things,
and life is neither noble, nor good, nor sacred.


  1. I find this time - where the grief is gray and nondescript - to be far harder than the jagged, sharp moments right after their birth.

    It is poems like these that take my breath away and remind me I should leave poems for the masters. This one is stunning. And true.

  2. 4 months is so hard. Well, every day is hard, but I do feel like I fell to the bottom of the pit around the 4 month mark. I felt helpless, alone, and so hurt that I would scream in my house when my husband wasn't home. I don't know what it is about that time period, but I tear up thinking about it and thinking of the pain you are still feeling. 4 months is not a long time. Everything is still raw and messy, yet most people want to see you getting better by now, which only compounds how alone we all are in this journey. Wishing you some peace Angie. The pain does become a little duller with time.

  3. It's such a short time and yet feels like forever. Thinking of you & Lucy. Much love to you.

  4. A powerful poem (that line, "Agony, agony, dream, ferment, and dream": Wow.) and a powerful post. There you are.

    On a lighter note, I remember stopping at the Walt Whitman travel plaza once and just cracking up. He would have loved it, would have seen the beauty in the neon and the gas pumps and the fast food, Whitman of the great big heart.

  5. "grief lasts longer than sympathy" is one thing i read that stuck with me. People expect you to be moving on now, but at four months, you are still just trying to breathe. hang in there angie xo

  6. sending you love today and everyday angie and holding lucy close to my heart this eve.

    the months go by and i think like you said the grief settles, it becomes our reality as the shock wears off.

    i'm here with you

  7. "the rawness is not so raw, and the acute pain of Lucy's death is not so acute...but deep deep within me the grief has settled and made itself at home."

    I remember that shift around 4 months after my son died. The grief did not get easier but it changed.

    How are you doing on your 4 month questions left unanswered?

    Thinking of you.

  8. I had to stop and think how long it's been for me. It's been 5 1/2 months. It feels like yesterday, and yet it feels like eons ago that I lost E.
    CLC is right, people expect that you've moved on by now. It's ridiculous. Most people no longer (if they ever did) say her name. I hate that some people refer to E as 'the loss.' She wasn't the loss. I lost her. There's a difference. She's a person and always will be. She's not a loss.
    It's comforting to me and I hope to you that so many of us will never expect another to 'move on', in the sense that you put Lucy behind you and act as if you are the same person you always were. We are forever changed. Sometimes it's change for the better, sometimes for the worse. It depends on the day, the moment. I'm hoping you're finding moments of peace in your days.

  9. Thinking of you mightily, angie.

    I am closing in to 2 years, and today I cried while driving. It is still so hard.


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