Ghost in the House


Come, child. It’s evening. Come to me

And sit with me once more.

Let’s rock here while the others sleep.

Let’s see – your sister’s four;

The baby is three months today;

Your little brother’s two,

And I have not decided if I’ll tell them

about you.


And you, you would be eight this year.

I do not know your name.

The color of your eyes, or hair,

Or where, or how, to blame.

The fear was all, the fear of change,

For I saw change as loss.

Against my dreams, my plans, my life

You seemed so small a cost,

Not knowing how your presence

Altered how I felt and thought,

Not knowing how you changed me

In the mix the hormones brought.

And you were not a child to me

But sickness, pain, and fear –

But oh, I know, I know you now,

Now that these three are here!

Your scent, your weight within my arms,

Your head upon my breast-

I did not know these things when I decided

what was best.


And I am lost and so confused

And don’t know how to feel,

For you, who were an illness,

Every year become more real;

Your sister and your brothers,

They proclaim you as they grow.

They make it harder still to face

The coldest truth I know:

That knowing – feeling – only

What I knew and felt back then,

I cannot say I would not make

This saddest choice again.

Oh! My little lost unknown,

My first and neverborn,

Forgive the ignorance that sent you

To the dark, unmourned!


And no, it isn’t every day

I find your shadow here;

Most times I’m far too busy

For reflection or for tears,

But sometimes, when the children sleep

And I have time alone,

I sit down in the dark, and rock,

And bring my baby home.


—Amanda Lewanski


© 2000 Amanda Lewanski

Reprinted with permission from Rachel’s Vineyard

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