Ritualwell

Tradition & Innovation

Miscarriage Ritual with Friends: Reading Poems at the Mikveh

Woman in the water
Background: When I miscarried in 2002, I wrote four poems to express my experience. I wish there had a been a ritual and community for handling it. The poems below are designed to be read by female friends surrounding the person who has miscarried just before she immerses in the mikveh.
 
November 16, 2002  
 
I know why Sarah laughed
She laughed 
because she had 
given up
 
So many miscarriages
Decades worth 
Bleeding and bleeding 
and no life
Disappointment, pain 
sadness, aloneness
 
She was a leader 
who hid her pain 
because they only wanted 
to know of her strength 
and joy
 
Here I am 
descendant of Sarah 
because in the end 
she did birth a child 
 
Here I am
crying 
for the unimaginable 
intensity of her suffering 
and 
for mine too 
I'm tired and wound up
And I'm looking for some peace

 
Unpregnant
November 19, 2002  

 
I know why Sarah laughed
Sarah laughed because she had given up
Cycle after cycle
Moon after moon
Blood after blood 
flowing disappointment
I know why I cried
I cried because
I hadn't given up
A hatzi kaddish for 
half a dream 
a quarter hope 
bled and gone

 
Miscarriage 
November 21, 2002
 
I should have spent today in a red tent 
with my friends
Someone should have stroked my hair
And someone should have sung to me
And someone should have reminded me 
of Sarah and 
of Rachel
Someone should have placed
my head on her lap 
and someone should have said 
I know, 
it was me last month, 
remember?
And someone should have whispered 
you'll survive
and someone should have promised
it will 
get better
And someone should have hollered at 
G-d for me
And someone should have forgiven G-d 
with me 
And someone should have brought my
daughter in to hold 
for a moment
 
And when this is over 
someone ought to put 
her fingers through my fingers 
and lift me up 
and lead me 
out of this tent 
to the waters
the healing waters 
seven steps 
to renewal.

 
A Limb
March 17, 2003 
 
A limb 
I always say
You feel pain
Not because a life 
was taken, 
an embryo 
isn’t a life.
 
Rather, said the rabbis, 
this loss is akin 
to losing a limb. 
But I forgot 
to tell me. 
A piece of me 
has been taken 
a part of me 
is lost 
smaller than my smallest toe 
insignificant as my nail 
tiny 
unsustainable
 
And yet a piece of me 
and apart from me 
a part of self of body 
and certainly of mind and 
hope 
is gone.
Let's say it plainly 
The plans were much 
greater than the 
collection of cells.
 
Both are now gone.

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