After I lost my baby, Michael in May of 1994, I wrote to help process the pain. It was early in 1997 that I entered a poetry contest that specified the type of poem that be submitted. The style requirement was that the poem had to be in villanelle format, and I had no idea what that was, so I researched it and found a description. The magazine Wish Women, where my poem was ultimately published, stated that the villanelle “strictly adhered to the meter (iambic pentameter), rhyme scheme (A1bA2, abA2, abA1, abA2, AbA1A2)” (Wish Women, Mar-Apr97). In layman’s terms this means, the first line of the first stanza repeats as the last line in the second stanza, fourth stanza and sixth stanza. Also, the last line of the first stanza repeats itself as the last line of the third and fifth stanzas as well. The iambic pentameter also requires that the second line of each stanza rhyme with one another throughout the poem, and that the first and third lines of the stanzas rhyme throughout the entire poem. The format was not easy and I read Dylan Thomas’s Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night to further comprehend the idea for a classic villanelle, and then I tried to emulate his pure genius.
When I tell you that writing this poem took great time and effort on my part, I am not embellishing. And now, looking back over 25 years ago, I realize God was guiding my fingers and creativity that day. I never expected to get published or win the contest, but I did and I still have the magazine to this day, and am still so very proud of this accomplishment and honor.
So, after much adieu, I give you Negligence:
May the sixth was the day my first son died, I never got to kiss his face or put my arms around him, God, tell me, will this continuous ache in my heart ever subside?
While I slept in ICU, his father knelt at my bedside, “Michael suffered severe asphyxia and is brain dead. The outlook is grim.” May the sixth was the day my first son died.
Why was Michael Joshua condemned to this infanticide? Did God choose my son to become one of his seraphim? God, tell me, will this continuous ache in my heart ever subside?
When I asked my doctor what happened, I was suspicious when she replied, "Sometimes these things just happen. You were my patient, not him." May the sixth was the day my first son died.
Michael never even had the chance to be lullabied, Now he's being lulled to sleep by sweet angelic hymn, God, tell me, will this continuous ache in my heart ever subside?
After my search for answers, my suspicions were justified, The chances of a mother's child dying due to eclampsia are quite slim, It was then I realized my doctor's negligence resulted in a child's homicide! May the sixth was the day my first son died.
-Lydia K. Lampert, Belvidere, NJ (LaPella at time of publication)