Editor’s note: This is a poem written by CourierTraveler columnist Doc Arnett, after he officiated the funeral of a baby discovered dead two weeks before the due date.

 

On a calm gray morning

we stand for a while on this low hill,

a green ocean of winter wheat spills its lush green

across the rolling fields to the south and east.

 

Beyond the shadows of old cedars and an ancient elm,

we walk across spongy ground to the few chairs

set in line before a tiny white casket

resting on plywood above the waiting earth.

 

Quentin’s unbreathing birth the week before

has torn a hole into our lives,

less than two weeks short of a full nine months’

of hopes and plans and the joyful works of preparation.

 

I stand as preacher — fearing the short reach of my words —

and speak of pain and loss, the sometimes awful costs

of life and love in this world of sun and storms,

unformed reasons and seasons of joy and grief.

 

While hundreds of others offer up prayers elsewhere,

we add one more to theirs,

a small sharing of anguish here on this bitter shore

where the tides bring in and carry out,

 

here where sand and stone mark both hope and doubt.

 

Exactly a week beyond Passover’s dark loss,

we meet here amidst acres of granite-marked memories,

at the carved-pain intersection of life and loss,

where we weep and grieve with sometimes heaving shoulders.

 

We move through such times as this,

torn by the broken-bone ache of shattered hopes,

the unflinching love of blood and kin,

an exasperating longing for explanation,

 

mourning our way to hope

while we wait

for the promise of resurrection

in a cloudless sky.

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