A White Room, A Piano



For every thing you have missed,

you have gained something else

    – Ralph Waldo Emerson



My lost sons are not a wound.

The doctor did not cut my womb,

he didn’t make me hold them.

Time has stitched the pain.


What is gained in so short a life?

One breath each: Such slight air

wouldn’t ripple a candle’s flame.


I didn’t want to know them as sons

but the county mailed birth records

to our home: Baby Boy A, Baby Boy B.


A year later in the same white room

where they died, my daughter’s

warm mouth found my breast.


Now she’s 24. Her self-portrait

in grays and peach and yellow

graces our bedroom wall. She awakens

the piano with Satie’s placid notes.


Karen Paul Holmes has a full-length poetry collection, Untying the Knot (Aldrich Press, 2014). She was chosen for Best Emerging Poets (Stay Thirsty Media, forthcoming). Publications include Prairie Schooner, Poetry East, Atlanta Review, Slipstream, and Poet Lore. To support fellow writers, Holmes originated and hosts a critique group in Atlanta and Writers’ Night Out in the Blue Ridge Mountains.