This Makes My Heart Ache

Parents, beware. If you’re even remotely aware of the dark twisting nether of emotions coursing through you, feel free to move on. If, on the other hand, you don’t mind the occasional tug on your heart, by all means don’t miss this…

I was driving to work today and caught the end of Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. Today’s poem was called “Little Sisters” and is told from the perspective of a birthday celebration for the one surviving girl of three.

It begins:

This birthday I have reached the age
where my mother bore
the last of her dead daughters—
one that was whisked away
before its first clean cry
could scour the naked room, the later two
a blue that refused to brighten.

and ends:

I reach for her hand and hold it,
but there are spaces here,
tender lacunae we cannot fold away.
Still somewhere the hand-stitched garments,
the gingham quilts, the counting game.
Still the soot-smudged corner
where I crouched beneath the stovepipe
and fingered like a rosary
the small pebbles of their names.

A truly remarkable piece of writing. Read it today and say a prayer for parents and children everywhere who have lost a child, a friend, a little sister or brother.

[Read “Little Sisters”]
[Listen to Garrison read “Little Sisters”]