Mary’s Lamb, a poem

The morning sunlight hits her aching eyes.
Her husband gone already, left quietly.
First she sees the empty silent crib,
The changing table smelling still of plastic,
The rubber toys and mobiles in their boxes,
The unworn little dresses hanging there.
She winds the plastic lamb, it sings to her
A song of mary and her little lamb.
Her body feels like its wading through cement.
Nothing else to do this morning. She sleeps.

And then her baby comes to her
In dreams of pink and lavender.
With laughing eyes and chubby face
And little dress of silk and lace.

She wakes again to the squealing sounds of a school bus.
The children shout but none will enter this house.
With all her will she raises her head a little.
Her red eyes assaulted by the flowered wallpaper,
The brightly colored pictures of smiling lambs.
Baby shoes that still smell like leather.
Her bladder aches. She wanders down the hall.
In the kitchen, the unused baby bottles
Keeping silent vigil on the counter
Remind her of how tired she always feels.

In sleep her baby comes to her
On little wings of gossamer.
Gentle words she softly sings
And to her mother solace brings.

Darkness. Door slams. Her husband is home.
The TV fills the house with joyless noise.
She calls to him, but no reply. She rises.
Runs her fingers along the empty crib,
The pristine changing table sterile white
The little dresses hanging in a row. She holds a toy.
Mary had a little lamb.

But at night her baby comes to her
In dreams of pink and lavender.
Wipes bitter tears from red rimmed eyes
And begs her mummy not to cry.
Face aglow with limpid light,
She promises to come each night.
Hand in hand they walk together
And mummy hopes she sleeps forever.

-Stephen P. Smith

13 Responses to “Mary’s Lamb, a poem”

  1. February 26, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Wow! I’m thinking you might earn yourself a nickname, something like “Master of Macabre.” I’m impressed with the “non-rhythm” of the “awake” scenes compared to the rhyming and rhythmic “dream” scenes! At first i thought something was wrong…but it’s definitely one to read several times. Not wrong at all.
    Well done.

    Thank you! I don’t think I was being “macabre” here, merely trying to communicate what might have been going through this woman’s head. Obviously, this is not a pleasant subject. The “non-rhythm” sections are really written in a very loose iambic pentameter, and, as you noticed, they were meant to contrast with the dream sequences in the poem.


  2. 2 Red
    February 26, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    My goodness, Stephen .. Quit your day job – you have talent, and this only proves it.

    Any time I can make you cry, Red, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. 😉 Quit the day job? Sometimes I’m sorely tempted.


  3. 3 ~m
    February 26, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Hemingway’s 6 word story any inspiration here? 😉

    Actually, the idea for this one had been bouncing around my head for quite some time, and is, in fact, based on a true story. But for some reason I couldn’t quite get it where I wanted it. When you told me that story, all of a sudden the whole thing just snapped into focus, and I finished it up a couple of nights later. So yes, you do deserve some credit for this one. Try not to get a big head. 😉

    Deep melancholy bordering on near suicide, methinks.
    In dreams of pink and lavender
    God, how I love that. God bless my little girls.
    Well said, well written, well done.


    Thank you for those kind words. They mean a great deal coming from you.


  4. February 26, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Wow, you truly have a God given talent for conveying emotion and making an audience understand a feeling without making them feel uneasy or uncomfortable.

    Thank you! With a poem like this, I try to show rather than tell, and let the reader draw his or her own conclusions. Thanks for stopping by!


  5. February 26, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Should have known better to trust the sweet title and picture, after all we are dealing with Master Smith here 😉 .

    I like to keep you a little off balance. 😉

    I think what makes this so great is what is said and what is only implied. Also the rhythm switches from awkwardly dragging to smooth flowing, with the sentiment changing from happy and safe to painful and uncomfortable.

    Exactly. I tried to make the rhythms in the “waking” scenes rather harsh, while using the sing-songy, almost childish rhythms for the dream sequences.

    ‘And then her baby comes to her
    In dreams of pink and lavender.
    With laughing eyes and chubby face
    And little dress of silk and lace.,

    If the rhythm of this read out loud passage could be seen in colour it would be pink and lavender. Just love this.

    Another thing I love:
    ,the morning sunlight hits her aching eyes,
    It is so important that her eyes are aching before the sunlight hits it, as well rested and happy people will have momentarily aching eyes ’caused’ by the sunlight. Again a perfect example for one sentence telling the entire story of what the last thing was she did before she fell asleep.

    Ah, aren’t you the clever one. I was wondering if anyone would notice that.

    Well done Sir, well done.

    Thank you! It always means a little more coming from you.


  6. 6 Sam
    February 27, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    Very intense. Much more so than I was prepared to encounter. Sadly exercised through your words. Once again a fine display. Thank you sir.

    Thank YOU for those kind words.


  7. February 28, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    Wow I love your writing, it’s powerful. Oh, the despair and torment a mother has of losing her child is so dreadful.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Hi, Angela! Thank you for visiting. I’m glad you liked the poem. I’ve taken the liberty of adding you to my blogroll.


  8. February 29, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I KNEW you were going to say you weren’t being macabre! And I know it.

    Not intentionally, anyway. I realize my poetry is a bit on the dark side, and some, like “All Hallow’s Eve”, and “The Ghost at my Side”, are indeed macabre. But really this is just an outlet for my own dark side, a healthier one than some of the other outlets I’ve tried in my lifetime.


  9. March 1, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Hey Smith,
    Painfully beautiful.

    dreams of pink and lavender
    TV fills the house with joyless noise



    Hey, Annie, thanks for stopping by! Yes, a lot of people seemed to like the “dreams of pink and lavender” line. I was bit surprised, to be honest.

    “Perfect”, eh? I don’t know what to day, really. High praise indeed, especially coming from you. I’m genuinely touched by your comment. I’m truly glad you enjoyed it.


  10. 10 Beto Ochoa
    March 1, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    It is in want that we are broken.
    Then the suffering magnifies.
    So many questions.
    The child was lost…or the loveless union the fault
    Or, for all the love a barren womb or seedless man
    Regardless, in the desire lies the suffering
    The broken lay in the shadow of it’s passing

    Hmmm, interesting interpretations. It’s gratifying to see that the poem can be understood on different levels.

    Think good thoughts Smith. You’ve earned them.

    Good thoughts don’t always lead to good poetry, at least not for me. It seems that some of my best poetry comes from the darkest corners of my mind.

  11. March 2, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    I like to keep you a little off balance. 😉

    Actually I’d say you keep me IN balance. 🙂

    Awwwwwwww. I try. 😉


  12. 12 alison
    March 5, 2008 at 2:19 am

    You are better than Poe. My stomach just dropped about ten feet below the floor. Wonderful, Smith. L, Ali

    Alison, any time I can impress a poet of your talent, I feel I’ve done a good day’s work. But Poe? You’re making me blush, really. Thank you for visiting and leaving such kind words.


  13. March 12, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    sadness, reality, loss… and thorns of excitement upon my skin. that was great!

    Thank you!

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