Where Are the Children- Arla Shephard Bull

When They Say There’s Nothing There:

Before you, sweet unicorn babe
we were desperate with longing
for death, really, a ghost
that lingered, loomed over us and curled
itself to sleep each night, nestled
in a burrow somewhere deep and lost
to the light.

(If you left, if you slipped
away to join your thestral sister,
I can’t say we wouldn’t
try to follow.)

She’s fond of haunting
me, my love, when you forget
to move, trembling reminder
of pain’s latticework,
spaces laden
with a lack of life.

(Empty: what your father
thinks he feels, after.)

Before you, sweet prayer,
my doctor calls her hope
or the absence
of, but you are what exists
between a single act
of breathing.


This poem came out of a prompt from the WusGood?  Black Hogwarts 2018 online poetry workshop. The prompt asked us to evaluate the healthy and unhealthy bonds in our life and then connect those bonds to magical creatures. I ended up writing about my unborn child, who will be born in October, and the pregnancy I lost last year. Many thanks to my instructor Siaara Freeman and class partner Lauren Bullock for pushing me to delve deeper with this poem.

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