You stand before a vast, empty country, the land taut and pinned to the horizon. You measure your journey in months, believing the mirages, imagining fruit-laden trees. Before you, emptiness; behind you, the bones of your hope, bleached white by the unblinking sun. Blistered by grief, you drink shame; it burns your throat.


Your womb refuses life; it is the tomb of lost children. A dozen die each year. You see their blood and weep.


Reason tells you that giving birth is not a measure of your worth. You are still a woman. You listen politely, go home and drown yourself in tears. You curse the moon.


At the store, you wander the aisles, fill your basket high with food; some hungers can be filled. A woman, great with child, walks by, smiles at you, as if the two of you shared a secret. You leave the basket; someone will come by later and empty it. You must leave quickly, before the wailing starts, before you rock yourself to silence.


You do not know the secret.


After the silence, you rage, scorch earth and heaven with your anger. You tend the fire of hatred and burn yourself.


In the times before this, when your body kissed your lover, you shut the door to time. Now you line the walls with calendars, watch the clock, measure love by numbers, as if there were a recipe for life.


You give yourself to doctors, learn the humiliation of need, fail, and try until you are tired of dying like this.


One night after some years have passed, you hear the soft whimper of a child, and rise to hold her in your arms. Standing before the window, you see the full moon and smile. You never learned the secret, and yet your arms are full, too.


Another woman, in a different place, rises from her sleep and stands beneath the moon. Her hands search beneath her breasts and feel the emptiness beneath her heart, where a child once slept. That child sleeps now in the arms of the barren woman.


On dark nights when the moon empties itself of light, you think of the woman who shared her secret. You weep for the moon and the woman. You, too, know something of emptiness.


41 thoughts on “Barren

  1. This beautiful meditation sums up so many things I feel but find so hard to articulate. You could never be barren with your incredible talent for spinning magic with words. ‘Some hungers can never be filled’ – truer words were never written. Thank you.

  2. creatingreciprocity touched on one of the facets I love about your writing in a beautiful way— you really are capable of writing about difficult subjects without becoming overwrought or cold.

    I love this piece especially— the images are so delicate that they feel like a gentle hug.

    There is nothing in the world you cannot write about Yearstricken. I am increasingly convinced of this truth. Wow. Just… wow.

  3. Talk to me...I'm your Mother

    This is powerful. Your writing is so multi-faceted. Your humor is outrageous and your cleverness undeniable; and when you express your feelings they become universal.

    I would love to re-blog but I offer people my words for their own use with no restrictions so don’t know if you are up for that.

  4. Year-stricken,

    I lived your words, here on the page and in real life. You captured the heartache, the anger, the frustration, the beauty and the guilt and the throat catching love of holding and loving that baby.

    I feel like you came inside of my heart and pulled out words that I haven’t ever, really, been able to find.

    Thank you.

  5. “until you are tired of dying like this.”

    No one tells you that when you give up a child for adoption that you begin to die that day, and that you will keep dying, every day, for the rest of your life. Thank you for seeing both sides of the equation. As in usually the case, your words quietly pull chunks of me out into the light, but because your words have been so gentle, I survive reading them, again and again. They caress my pain, and apply a soothing salve, and promise me redemption.

    You, too, know something of emptiness.

  6. Loved this. My mother and 2 cousins were adopted. I love how you deal with both the biological and the adoptive mother. You really are a master of the bittersweet, yet well-placed word.

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