Sunday, March 8, 2009

Pantoum






Stillbirth by Laure-Anne Bosselaar



On a platform, I heard someone call out your name:
No, Laetitia, no.
It wasn’t my train—the doors were closing,
but I rushed in, searching for your face.

But no Laetitia. No.
No one in that car could have been you,
but I rushed in, searching for your face:
no longer an infant. A woman now, blond, thirty-two.


No one in that car could have been you.
Laetitia-Marie was the name I had chosen.
No longer an infant. A woman now, blond, thirty-two:
I sometimes go months without remembering you.

Laetitia-Marie was the name I had chosen:
I was told not to look. Not to get attached—
I sometimes go months without remembering you.
Some griefs bless us that way, not asking much space.

I was told not to look. Not to get attached.
It wasn’t my train—the doors were closing.
Some griefs bless us that way, not asking much space.
On a platform, I heard someone calling your name.


“Stillbirth” by Laure-Anne Bosselaar is a poem about a woman who lost a child as an infant. When I began reading this poem I expected it to be about a stillbirth, like the title suggests. The line “No longer an infant. A woman now, blond, thirty-two” made me think that either this is the author imagining that her child had grown up or that the child was possibly still alive. In line 14, when she says, “I was told not to look. Not to get attached—” I began thinking that the author had actually given her child up for adoption. Now she is haunted by her choice. When she hears the name Laetita she runs into the train searching for the face of her child.

I also think that the train is a use of extended metaphor or conceit. The train is a symbol of her loss of her daughter. Her getting on the train and looking for Laeititia shows that she wants to go back and see her daughter. However, it is not her train. In other words it is not her place. Because of this she is unable to find her daughter.

Her use of caesura is also very important in this poem. The dashes create a dramatic pause in the poem. The dashes are used after “It wasn’t my train” and “Not to get attached.” These two statements are two of the most profound within the poem. When she says “It wasn‘t my train” it portrays her hope that she will see her daughter again though these hopes are futile. She will never see her daughter because it is not her train and as I mentioned before it is as though it is not her place. “Not to get attached” is significant because she is incredibly emotionally attached to her child, still, after 32 years. However, she is conflicted because she was warned against being emotionally attached.

“Stillbirth” is a beautiful poem. I am sure there are far more levels to it than I have dissected because I have never been in that kind of situation. The grief that she talks about so simply in this poem is actually an enormous grief that I can only imagine.




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