Barbara Bald – To the Child I Never Had

Bald LE P&W September 2023

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing September 2023

To the Child I Never Had, poems by Barbara Bald.

To the Child I Never Had

Could I have loved you that much?
Set aside my own distaste of dyed hair
to help you choose your own colors?

Would I have let you revel in blue?
Helped you decide on turquoise or teal?
Favored doing your whole head or just the crown?

Surely I would have asked why
you wanted to do this at all. Wondered
how you got to be sixteen so fast.

I see you here now, head craned backward
toward the sink, terrycloth towel around your neck
to save your Red Sox jersey.

My hands massaging your tender scalp,
suds foaming between my fingers, dark blue stains
on white porcelain ready for the drain.

What if you had chosen to pierce your nose?
Ink a swastika on your arm? What then?
Could I, would I, have held the mirror higher for you?


It has taken fifteen years to lie down on this spot.
To curl in fetal position on this rug

beside ghosts of empty bottles, valium and Antabuse,
over the stain of body fluids left where you died.

Here, I want to stretch out unencumbered
so I can feel your numbing fear of dying alone.

I want to watch over our story for hours
like our loyal spaniels who guarded your bluing lips.

Before letting go, I want to spoon with memory—
here—as our bodies did on cold wintry nights.

Behind Thinning Lashes

You can see it in the eyes—aging.
Lids folding down, shades closing slowly
on a life.

Eyes once wide—blue, green, brown—
full of gusto. Beacons pointing the way,
body following.

Passion now peers around corners,
through dusty blinds. These eyes are tired,
sag like folds of a well-worn shirt.

Even the whites give it away—yellowing.
Thin red lines tell stories like lifelines
gypsies read in wrinkled palms.

But, behind old eyes, wisdom stacks up
like books on a shelf or healing potions
in an apothecary’s window.

Weary eyes know when to let a child
build her own sandcastles, when
to help a teen draw firm lines in the dirt.

These eyes honor the heart’s softening,
thank the mind for realizing life was never
about being ‘King of the Hill.’

Perhaps the gentle droop of lids signals relief
in letting go, offers wise messages—urging,
Take down your flag, Let go of the rope.

© Barbara Bald

Barbara Bald is a retired teacher, educational consultant and free-lance writer. She has worked at the Frost Place in Franconia, served as outreach coordinator for NHPTV and volunteer reading and writing poetry with school-age children, adults. Her poems have been published in a variety of anthologies—most recently Covid Spring published by Hobblebush Press. They have also appeared in various journals including: The Northern New England Review, Avocet, Off the Coast, Silver Birch Press and The Poets’ Touchstone. She has two full-length books: Drive-Through Window, Other Voices/Other lives and a chapbook is entitled Running on Empty.

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