Sins of the Father by S. E. Ingraham

creaking, shaken by night and fury,
and I feel leaves dying inwards,
amassing green materials
to your desolate stillness.
Pablo Neruda 
      (from:Entrance Into the Wood)
The dark chorus sang me awake last night,
their voices harmonizing until Mozart’s Requiem
came clear and then I knew it was for you they sang.
Felt the music’s strings tugging at my heart’s own
but once up that organ became fisted. Checking the news
reminded me of my angst anew, and I could not help but worry.
Your father’s sentencing was this day; I felt your soul hovering,
your wings, whisper-soft, near me as I began to hurry
creaking, shaken by night and fury.
Driving to the courthouse, the facts of your case crowd my mind.
It is difficult to think of much else, though such horror
should not bear reliving; I fear until justice is done, I will not be
afforded release, and images of you and your twin,
two years old, starved and beaten, and weighing thirteen pounds
when your heart finally gave out, and your father, a man so hard,
panicked, at last called the EMT’s, too late for you really, but they came,
did their best, got that organ beating, became de facto bodyguards,
and I feel leaves dying inwards.
Of course, the EMT’s alerted the police, and both your parents
were arrested then.  Your brother was discovered – healthy,
bouncing on the couch while the rescue attempts went on.
Inspections at your house exposed the  conditions
in which you and your twin had been living: a urine-soaked mattress,
no toys, no clothes, nothing in the room but that cloth bacterial.
And as malnourished as both you and your sister were,
in the kitchen stood a fridge, filled, stately, almost magisterial
amassing green materials.
So today your father will be sentenced, and I hear he’ll get the max
but the mystery of your life and death will become no clearer, I’m afraid.
The letter he shared through his interpreter was pitiful at best,
to tell us, and the court, that he never meant to hurt you or your sister,
that he just made a big mistake, and will be broken-hearted all his life.
It leaves me simmering, leaves me saddened, makes me hate him more, too.
Starving babies, then assaulting them,  as well as all the illness,
leaves me feeling unwell also, wondering how to free you, so you may soar.
I am taken, I am seized,  with a calming sort of chillness
to your desolate stillness.
The story of Baby M has haunted me since its inception in May 2012. There is nothing that bothers me quite so much as child abuse and no abuse that gets to me in the way parental abuse does. This case is so troubling, I have written about it many times. I will never understand these parents, and my heart will never heal from the ache incurred over this baby. The fact that the father was sentenced to 15 years was a minor triumph, but it did bring it all back for many of us.
S.E.Ingraham, a retired mental health consumer, pens poems from the 53rd parallel (Edmonton, Alberta) where she lives with her love, when they’re not travelling the world, or plotting ways to do so. Her poetry has appeared in print and online, and she has a chapbook near-ready for publication in 2016. In her spare time, she straightens public works of art.

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