“The Bookstore” by Rene Strikwerda

“Stillborn,” “When Pregnancy Fails,”
these words that shout at me
declaring themsleves.
These hated words draw my eyes
to the bookshelf I do not want to follow.
The titles inviting me to join
their band of broken hearts and shattered lives.
I want to scream — I do not belong here!

So few weeks ago I stood in this place
with rounded belly and lofty dreams
A joyous member of the living
hungrily absorbing information
on pregnancy and caring for baby.
The knowing smiles from women
the casual glance from belly to face.
Eyes embraced you, welcoming you
to the secret club.

I choose the book on grief
and lay it on the counter like an unclean thing.
The eyes have changed. They look away,
no longer wanting to see inside you.
They secret my purchase away
but I am not concealed
I have been torn open for all to see.
As I leave the bell on the door mocks me
singing, “Your baby is dead.”

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