The Burden of Knowing

A poem.

Sarah Flake March 04, 2014
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By the slip of an inexperienced lawyer, I know their names
My son’s birth parents who wished to be anonymous

She who denied the reality of another pregnancy, even to herself
He who had balked at raising their first son
overlooked her changing body
As it happened again

All alone she drove herself to the hospital
To bring forth a child she could not bear to see or hold
The baby at home would have his first birthday soon
She could not start over again

His was a difficult delivery
His collarbone broken from all her effort
A painful beginning

I must make an adoption plan for this baby
She told the hospital social worker
No, I don’t want to know about his adoptive
parents It hurts too much to know

I am afraid to tell the father
But I want the baby to go home soon
I will tell him so he can give his consent
And the baby can join his new family

Never knowing his mother’s turmoil
A little son left the hospital
Into the arms of gentle foster parents
Who had done this many
times before

He showed up at the appointed meeting and
Silently signed his consent
To never see a son Whose existence he had scarcely
chanced to know

So much love, so much pain
To create my darling son
Their names are cast indelibly in my memory

What will I say when my son asks
Can I lie and say I don’t know
They wished to be anonymous

His loss is an emptiness in me, too
How I wish I could share him with them
That we could all be whole

But just as I stopped my husband’s impulse
To look them up in the telephone book at the lawyer’s office,
I make myself shelve
their names far back in my mind
To let them become covered with dust

Almost, but not completely forgotten

author image

Sarah Flake


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