The Japanese mourn children they abort.
In Shinto shrines they pick a figurine
To represent the life that they cut short.
They bow, then slide a folded note between
The sandalwood and jade as if a soul
That never loved a face could now forgive
Or any act of penance could control
Unwanted visits from a fugitive.
I never picked a message I could send
Or bargained for forgiveness. There was none.
Although I know my boy does not intend
More pain, he asks about the nameless son
We lost three months before he was conceived.
I have no words to tell him how we grieved.
© A.M. Juster; used by permission of the author.