The restless image comes to my unquiet mind:
A child’s cradle, the old-fashioned wooden type
Hand-joined in some grandfather’s tool-shed;
Soft eiderdown quilted by a grandmother’s circle;
A cute knitted bonnet with crocheted lace trim
Made by a long-since spinstered Maiden Aunt.
I laugh out loud at such dewy-eyed foolishness
I made my choice long ago not to have children.
As the seasons of my life change from Autumn
Into the inevitable Winter, I feel the coming chill;
I ask would a child have brought loving warmth?
Other people and their children – their stories too
Tell me that despite all the trials and tribulations
The warmth of having offspring lights a torch
In the hearts of those fortunate to be so blessed
That can never be extinguished, no matter what.
Could I have raised a child to be loving and kind?
I confess that I have always doubted that I could.
The ghosts of past trauma that haunt my present
Would surely have tripped up my desire to love
Cherish and nurture – I cannot see how it could not
The same ghosts that destroyed my relationships
Have obscured any ambition I might have to parent.
The empty cradle that rocks gently back and forth
In the dark annals of my imagination, so clear that
I can hear the nagging creak of the wooden rocker;
Asking the questions that I never want answered.
John Llewellyn James