Poetry & Readings

A few of the readings sometimes used at the fertility loss ceremonies:

NOTE: These readings may cause strong reactions–so please take responsibility
for looking at them–and perhaps wait if you are in a particularly vulnerable place
at the moment.


My Children
by Harriett Goldenberg

I miss you
you who were to be–whatever and whoever
you would have been.
I miss you
you aren’t and will never be

The part of me that’s never been.

The part of me I shall never meet
and will miss and long for forever, forever.

I miss your life
and I miss my life–as I thought it would be.

Something has ended that never had a chance to begin.

And I’ll miss you and the mother that I was to be, forever.


I Carry You In My Heart
by e. e. cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear
no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)



by Angela Ashbury
My God,
Why have you let this happen?
why did you forsake ?
Creator–why uncreate?
Redeemer–why destroy wholeness?
Source of Love–why rip away the one I loved so utterly?
Why? Why, O God?

Is this pit of darkness,
hollowed out by grief and screaming,
I reach out to the one I loved
and cannot touch

Where are you, God?
Where are you,
except here
in my wounds
which are also yours.

as I hurl at you my aching rage and bitterness
hold me,

and stay here
until this hacked off stump of my life
discovers greeness again.

Angela Ashbury
The Book of a Thousand Prayers (1996, HarperCollins)


The Pastoral Visitor, 1995
Harry Fosdick

I have watched people start out in life, handling it with vigour. Then they
run into experiences where something deeper than vigour is needed. Sometime
in life nearly everyone encounters disappointment or failure. To come through
such an experience a person needs deep resources. But it is not just in
facing experiences such as sorrow and discouragement and tragedy–it also
has to do with a person’s search for inner peace, some serenity in the soul
to come home to at night and go out from in the morning. Who does not need
that? But no one can get inner peace by pouncing on it, or by vigorously
willing to have it. Peace is an awareness of reserves beyond ourselves, so
that our power is not so much in us as through us.


On Pain (Excerpt from The Prophet)

by Kahlil Gibran

And a woman spoke, saying, Tell us of Pain. And he said:

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the
sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life,
your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always
accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
Much of your pain is self-chosen. It is the bitter potion by which the
physicians within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the
Unseen. And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned
of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

Excerpt from a speech by Bel Mooney, British writer and broadcaster, mother of a stillborn son, wife of broadcaster David Dimbleby
In a speech to bereaved parents at Liverpool Cathedral in 1997, Bel Mooney,
a writer and broadcaster spoke of her grief over the stillbirth of her
second son, Tom.

She says at one point she threw away the tranquillisers she’d been given and

‘It’s no good trying to blunt pain. You have to let it kick in, and kick in
really hard. You have to walk through the valley of the shadow, even though
the cliff walls each side are high, and there’s no way through but straight
ahead, when it seems that the darkness will never end.’

She goes on to say,
‘Bereavement can leave you bleak and bitter, it can make some people cry
abuse at the Universe, or at God; it can strengthen others in their faith or
acceptance….there are no rules. When we come together here he know one
thing–that we are not alone. Holding hands in our imaginations or actually
holding hands, what we do is we make a circle ‘round our own, private grief,
and share, even if briefly, the pain of others. That is being a part of
humanity. ..I celebrate the power of the sympathy and love we feel for each
other. ’


Lost Children
by Julia Lock

I had a dream once
that filled my heart with joy
nestling in our bed
a tiny sun-blessed boy

I had a hope once
that glowed as quiet as a pearl
lying in our arms
a shining golden girl

and in my dream
my love and I
would look a look of love
silent in our serenity

in my life
my love and I
look a look of love
and lack of understanding
our tired shocked eyes are teary
our prodded bodies weary

the blanket of our grief
wraps tight around us both
and curled up small beneath
we hold our sorrow close

and in our great soft bed
empty places
our loved lost children
must fill our hearts
not silence them.

How hard it is.
And will be.

This child that never was



When my father died

by Clive B.

When my father died
It was sad and painful
And there were a lot of questions

But we held together
And our love grew
And the family has been closer.

These losses are different
Outwardly, we have lost nothing
We have seen cells on a monitor
Which have failed to grow

Yet we have been ravaged
And battered and devastated

We had hoped to be parents
Embarking upon the great endeavour
Distilling our experiences
To nurture our children

The loss of this possibility
Has struck at the very core of our beings

It feels as though we have lost
All that is precious
All that is fundamental
All that is necessary to nurture another life

Giving up on our own children
How can we grieve for something we never had
How can we not give up on each other
How can we recover our lovingness

I think of the words of the ancient supplication
Out of the deep I cry unto thee
Out of the deep I cry unto thee

by Jennifer Hutchinson

Pain, unseen yet deep.
Gnawing sorrow of the heart
Unnoticed even by those closest to me,
Pain hidden perhaps too well.

Searing sense of loss
Tears my heart apart again.
Ancient wounds prised open ruthlessly
By one word, one glimpse too many
of newborn babes in loving arms,
While my empty arms ache.

What should have been
Now will not be-
My long awaited baby gone
Before we had a chance to meet.
Gone to eternity before me,
Waiting there for me,
While I am here
Yearning for her.
But knowing that, one day
She and I will meet…..


Thought Child
by Jackie Head
Today is your birthday
my thought child
you are two years old.
You are weaned
but I am not yet weaned of you.

It is a full moon
and I have watched
how silently
and beautifully
it shines tonight.
It is your present to me
and this is mine to you.

Grieved and not forgotten
in you I find myself
and in the moon
I find you
ever present
though set
to wax and wane
in my memory
or to shine out full
as you do
Compassionate One
by Joyce Rupp

compassionate one
I sit with empty hands
wondering about the losses of my life

I sit with empty hands
pondering the pain of many goodbyes

I sit with empty hands
searching for decisions
about difficult choices

I sit with empty hands
facing the limitations
of my aging

I sit with open hands
looking for my life among the broken pieces

I sit with open hands
sifting through dreams that have disintegrated

I sit with empty hands
feeling the ache and sorrow of all my losses

I sit with empty hands
feeling the ache and sorrow of all my losses

I sit with empty hands
yearning for the unfolding of my true identity

Compassionate one
I sit with empty hands
trusting that your presence
embraces my pain
shelters my vulnerability
and gives meaning
to my countless dyings

Smudge Baby

by Anne Ryland

In my wandering fantasies

I have struggled to keep

your wriggling shadow

close to my stone womb.

I think you were watching me

as I engraved

endless trusting dreams there

within the honoured grave of my belly,

but now the waiting ceremony

is fading and I hear

you Goodbye footprints

slipping away beyond

the bare years ahead.

The bruise of emptiness is

closing round;

we may never paint

our life together.

–Anne Ryland

Anne Ryland was born in Essex in 1962. Seven years ago she moved from London up to Berwick-upon-Tweed, where she works as a tutor in adult education. In 2002 she gained an MA in Writing Poetry, with Distinction, from Newcastle University, and in 2005 was awarded a Northern Promise Award from New Writing North. Her poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies. Autumnologist is her first full-length collection. She enjoys working on her poems in coffee shops and on trains.


Instead of Children

By Meredith Wheeler

I had poems instead of children.

They came through my body sure as flesh and blood babies.

Some hurt. Some made me smile with pride.

Others were mis-shapen, stunted and died

An inky death. I felt I’d failed to nurse their delicate rhymes

And mourned them, fingering precious lines.

Some came with ease and grace, complete,

Grabbed my hand, wriggled iambic feet.

Those travel and visit, make friends and roam,

But most are fragile and never leave home.

I had poems, instead of children.

And they’ll grow old with me.