Letter on Emma’s Birthday

I’m continuing with my project of turning a few of Hannah Overton‘s letters into poems. This one is a very early letter from Hannah’s first months of incarceration after the trial. Hannah’s infant daughter turned one year old, and Hannah writes of how difficult it was to be separated from her baby on that day. The simultaneous expressions of pain and of faith are extremely moving. Here’s my best go at putting some of it into a sonnet.

Letter on Emma’s Birthday
1/22/08

Today my little baby’s one year old.
Today she coos and crawls, and cries with fear,
And laughs and sleeps. Today I wait in here,
Laughless and sleepless, and I may not hold
Those little hands, or wipe away her tears.
Today I ask my Maker: “Do You hear?
My arms are empty, and my bonds are tight:
And You could break them, but You do not will.”
He answers (as a Father does), “Be still.
What mother can forget her nursing child?
I too will not forget. These bitter harms
Are graven on My hands: hurtless and mild
Will be the healing when the hour is right.
Till then I bear you both within My arms.”

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About middlingpoet

From the Gawain poet to Rainer Maria Rilke: I love the English and German traditions of poetry.
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