Preparing for a meeting later today with one of my bereaved mother groups, I found a piece of writing from our session last month. For our opening prompt, I had played the song, “It’s Quiet Uptown,” from the musical Hamilton. If you don’t know the song, do listen–actually take in the whole astonishing soundtrack and see the show. (I’m still saving up for a ticket.)
Background for the song: Alexander Hamilton moved his family uptown after his son Philip was killed in a duel, defending his father’s honor. The family is trying to learn how to live with the unimaginable–Philip’s death.
Background for my acrostic: When I was pregnant with our first child, my husband Bill and I left our cramped New York City apartment and moved to a house we had bought in Southern Rhode Island. This was in April. We spent the summer renovating–think wall paper steaming, plaster dust, crafty carpenters, new beams, and sweat– preparing for Malcolm, who was born in September. When he died in open heart surgery in November, we slapped on the last coats of paint, banged the final nails, and put the place on the market. In January we moved to Boston.
Acrostic on The Unimaginable
Today I can still feel, decades later those
Each clock stroke a punch, a puncture to the heart.
Nobody sells a house they have just bought and renovated
Imagine such a crazy prospect
“Manage. Deal with it.” I’m sure they whisper
A chorus of well wishers.
Get a grip. “He was only an
Infant after all,” one neighbor said.
Now what is that supposed to bring?
A sense of Peace? Of
Blessing? Oh yes, he knew only a
Life of IV needling, beeping machines, feathery valves, torn chest–
twice, scars, isolettes, fluorescent light, yet those limpid blue
Eyes, when he came home briefly, stared dazzled by the maroon maple
outside his window, the perfect climber. His feet on its limbs,
his arms lifting him higher, that too unimaginable.
Marilyn Fast said:
One of the lines from the song “Its Quiet Uptown” says, “There are moments that the words don’t reach.” Carol defies the impossible by puncturing our hearts. She ends on an upbeat note with a fleeting image of Malcolm placing his feet on the limbs of the maple tree, and his arms lifting him higher.
Love this poem- I don’t know how you do it but you capture so much in those few lines. I also hadn’t listened to the song “”It’s Quiet Uptown” – great.