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Peter E.Murphy 

poet, reviewer, critic (poetry), teacher, U.S.A.

The Healing

for Amanda

Do you remember telling me you have babies
living in your stomach?
They talked to you at night, frightened you,
and when your tummy hurt you cried,

"My babies are kicking. They want to be born."

We learned it was milk that pained you,

milk that burned your stomach and clogged
your throat with phlegm.
And we learned, as you begged us
to let you drink it, how desire intensifies
for the things that harms us.

Do you remember how you stared at the faces
of the lost children on the milk cartons?
How many times you asked, "Who are they?
Why can't they go home?" as you pleaded
every day for milk, till I turned and screamed at you to stop.

I pray for your babies - how they fill you
like one of those Russian dolls,
each fitting inside the body of one
whom came before, each having the children
of her children within her, all waiting to be born
or to be found, and needing to be healed.

Arts Dialogue, June 1997, page 15


It was the plane circling at Idlewild
unable to land, unable to stay aloft,
that fell into the grace of Jamaica Bay.
It was early evening. Summer. The Fifties.
It was a neighbor's blue station wagon.
The noisy drive
to the beach.

It was the impressions we made in the wet sand.
The weeds. Remains of a bulkhead.
It was the bird sanctuary across the bay
on Broad Channel Island. A bridge. Traffic
to Rockaway. It was the sound of the engine.
A prop. Its sick cough.

It was a face in the window as it circled.
Too many faces. In church that Sunday, it was the way
the Father described wading
waist deep through the water, blessing
the parts of bodies. Blessing their souls. All that floated
and sank. Bless them all.

first published in The Ledge, 1996.

Arts Dialogue, February 2000, page 11

Peter Murphy coordinates an annual writer's conference. See:

Arts Dialogue, Dintel 20, NL 7333 MC, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands