Tara A. Elliott

In Dread

How carefully you must have dangled 
your sweetbabyboy
into that swirling eddy,
    first pursing your lips
to breathe
on his dimpled face
                    so he would hold his breath,
            then grasping him
by his left ankle to soak
his foretold soul in the river of the dead.

His father never once understood
what you were trying to do.

I know what it is to hold my own son
in my arms
                  & want more for him
than I could ever give.

In this world, there is a name for everything—but
no word
for a mother who has lost a child.

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Tara A. Elliott’s poems appear or are forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Wildness, Passengers Journal, and Ninth Letter, among others. Community outreach includes her role as Executive Director of the Eastern Shore Writers Association (ESWA) and Chair of the Bay to Ocean Writers Conference. A former student of Lucille Clifton, she is a recent winner of Maryland State Arts Council’s Independent Artist Award for Literature.