Bohemian Waxwings: A Poem About Early Miscarriage
I Can Make Life: Poems About Infertility and Miscarriage, Pregnancy and Birth
Bohemian Waxwings: A Poem By Nicole Breit
"Bohemian Waxwings" is the opening poem in my poetry collection, I Can Make Life (Tristan August Press, 2012).
"Bohemian Waxwings" is a narrative poem about life as a university student who realized, too late, that she had been in the early stages of pregnancy. The weight of the pregnancy loss is only realized years later when, as a woman in my mid-30s, I began to consciously try to get pregnant but couldn't.
That 22 year old university student really was
Preoccupied with cherry trees
and their blossoms, soprano bird songs
I would have worn trailing skirts,
tinkling bracelets clasped tight on bare ankles
My chestnut hair would have hung
in loose braids
I would have gladly, anxiously carried
it all too far
I, myself, was something of a "bohemian" waxwing - and would have been willing to become the cliched nature girl/earth woman, if the baby had given me a chance to. But
I studied bloodlines, theorized
about Moldova and Neptune,
reproduced stained glass icons and
researched Teutonic customs
This stanza references the stage of life where I was newly independent, and was still trying to figure out who I was. I wrote a paper on Moldova for a class, and wondered if the land my Austrian grandparents had emigrated from was actually in that territory. My mother's ancestor was Urbain Le Verrier, the mathematician who discovered Neptune, which I daydreamed about, and romanticized. I was studying Russian and art history, and was taken in by the work of icon painter, Andrei Rublev.
All of these interests added up to who I somehow wanted to be, or already was but still had yet to discover. But I can see now that everything I was immersing myself in at the time was cerebral, that I was filling my head with distractions in a stunned state of denial, rather than spending time inside my heart, experiencing what had happened.
When the blood had run for thirteen days
and the doctor treated you as casually
I crossed days off my calendar
in red ink, to better see the end
and didn’t think about you
At the time I began to struggle with infertility in my mid-30s, I saw a medium who had been recommended to me time and again. She asked me directly about the loss as she plainly stated the facts as she saw them: that I'd lost a baby in my early 20s, that it was a boy, and that he was still with me "in my energy".
Until that point the doctor's diagnosis of my miscarriage symptoms in my early 20s had never truly permeated my consciousnesses, or made me feel sorrowful - I'd never allowed them to. After my meeting with the medium I went back to my diaries from that period of time - the spring of 1995 - but I found nothing written in my diary for months.
I remember that spring I'd been injured in two car accidents, ten days apart, and was depressed and having difficulty getting to my classes. I realize now that the car accidents may have caused the miscarriage (and the miscarriage may have fed the depression) - but I can't remember the timing of the events.
There’s a little soul in your energy,
she said, and I knew it was you
It was a boy, she said
They always come back, you know
and you are suddenly human,
twelve years old, running, running and laughing
You can’t catch me, flying away
until you are nothing but
a tiny dot on a horizon of green,
circling a tree-belt of thick pines
Writing poetry is an interesting process. We often don't know where a poem is leading until we've written our way through it. Like the first poem I ever wrote that ever got any attention (called "Searching for my Grandfather"), this poem takes the reader on a circular journey. While in my grandfather poem, I recollect the day my grandfather tied my shoes for me when I was four years old, and at the end of the poem I am a 20 year old who decides to leave my shoes untied, hoping I can call him back (he died when I was 9).
In "Bohemian Waxwings", the poem starts with a glimpse of a young girl who was born to take care of injured birds, to the girl/woman trying to capture birds (the souls of lost children?) as she tries to be young, hopeful, open, but may never be able to be quite the same again:
I want you to see me like that again –
see me as that young girl with
eyes outlined in wet black,
moist lips, nascent hope,
an open jar with hands soft as
new leaves unfolding
reaching out in season
for errant birds
About Nicole Breit
Nicole Breit is a published author and poet. Her debut poetry collection, , explores the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual impact of fertility treatments, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, and birth. I Can Make Life was a finalist for the 2012 Mary Ballard Poetry competition. Her essay, “For Tristan: A Meditation on Loss, Grief and Healing” was published in The Sound of Silence: Journeys Through Miscarriage (Wombat Books, 2011). She is also the author of a number of online I Can Make Lifepregnancy loss resources. Follow her writing journey on her blog, Writing for my Life, or on twitter @NicoleBreit.
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