Wasp’s Nest

Tonight, at the National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Organization’s Annual Family Conference in Orlando, I attended a commemoration ceremony for the children who have died this year and in previous years. The name of each child was read aloud. Pictures were shown. Candles were lit. A room full of grieving people. In February I wrote this poem for Miss Elliott, the daughter of my friend Becky. I post it tonight in honor of all the children who have been lost to these diseases, and to the amazing parents who loved them each day of their lives. Deep love equals deep loss, and parental love requires emotional bravery. There’s no other way. 



Wasp’s Nest


For Becky Benson


There is nothing I understand.


The nest fell to the ground. Framed

first in the window at five o’clock,


holes like a heart,

heat like a heart but empty too-

It is mid-winter, the wasps

half-resurrected. Why a space to house what isn’t there?


Here today, gone tomorrow.


There is nothing

I understand-


This moment spinning flakes

at the cold window, scabs

of old songs, old

curses. Valentine,


there is no veil

between the world


end of everything. Lying


in bed with pieces of

the fallen mind lifted

from a body,


hot snowball thrown into the gravel walk,

hell-bound rocket.


Where is it?


I found it easily

under the pile of dirt beneath

the window, snow-pressed, blown

along side, replacing what you wanted to see.


All night it was here and now what?


It is early. Time

to leave

the top of the staircase.


The upper hand

The lower hand

I have no hands,

no help.


Somewhere nearby,

far off, around this corner-

my baby swings in the bitter

peace of the dying.


If only I could strike!

Stinging and wakeful, touch it,

take it

in my mouth, end all desire-


Silence at five in the morning,

downstairs, listening: Where is it? Where-


Here all the houses are burning

but I am the only one looking

and I understand nothing

of this place.

14 responses to “Wasp’s Nest

  1. I’ve been following your blog for many months.
    I never know what to say. You and Ronan and
    your family are in my heart, which aches for you. But is also deeply inspired by you. Thank you for continuing to write and share.

  2. carin van olst

    so beautiful Emily, thank you for sharing

  3. Alma Luz Villanueva

    You enter el corazon, the heat of pure grief…you have no hands, no help… ‘my baby swings in the bitter peace of dying’…and you are the one looking out at the burning houses. This poem leaves me naked, watching with you. Almaluz xoxo *I think of Ronan daily, a prayer to universe.

  4. Everytime I read your posts, my heart breaks and I always ended up in tears. My heart, mind and spirit with you and your family; just as you have lighted a candle for all the children who had passed away this year, you have lighted a candle in many hearts and you have accomplished make people sensitive against this disease and unveiled another side of motherhood and strength.

  5. Thank you for this amazing poem. I hate it that you know what it’s like to be “Where – here all the houses are burning/ but I am the only one looking.” Your words, born of your love, are so necessary and true. Holding you and Ronan in my heart every day, praying. XOXO

  6. to know such love, is it the meaning of life we need or the need of meaning for life, and those other questions all seem so interested in, endlessly searching but when there’s love like this and the answer comes it is love like this. beautiful, yes, and mysterious. namaste

  7. Monica Gettleman

    So touching Emily.

  8. No matter what you have been up to in your life–bungee jumping into shark filled waters from a helicopter, or whatever–there is no vulnerability, and no strength, like being a parent. Thank you for writing to all of us from where you are.

  9. Oh, wow – this makes me cry. Thank you, thank you. You’re right: there’s no other way. xox

  10. very beautiful… thank you

  11. Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem.

  12. Dear Emily, today in Mexico we celebrate Mothers day, so I want to say Happy Mothers Day to you, I know your experience as a mom is not easy but I’m sure you also experience the happiness when you knew you were pregnant, when you saw Ronan for the first time, when you hold him and kiss him now and that’s why I congratulate you, you are the best, bravest, fearless mother I know, and you ALWAYS be a mom because Ronan will always be your baby. You and little seal are always in my mind, I know you don’t pray and I respect that but I do pray for you and your family (hope you don’t mind) I can’t say I know what you’re going through but what I can say is that I can imagine. Love from my family to yours

  13. Emily – The deepest wishes of love to you, your precious little seal and family. Particularly today, I am thinking of the amazing women I know, moms who in the midst of their lives wracked with unseemly challenges are taking the time to transparently share with others what love really is, and doing so with the amazing talents used in a spirit of utmost transparency. I have been able to share your blog with my friends – moms of kids with SMA, Hyperplastic Left Heart Syndrome, Mitochondrial Disorders, etc. that also share their stories with staff at the Children’s hospital I work at. Thank you for helping others as they too face their life stories in the making.

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