GABRIELLE C. BURTON: Memory After A Miscarriage

(2016 Ian MacMillan Awards, Poetry Finalist)


The summer heat wave hung, heavy on our bones,
and fat flies droned on the windowsills.

Our airedale hid, snapping at our fingers.
She would not leave the cold dark space beneath
our back door steps.
                                  My sister and I watched
from the kitchen window. Three times, she dragged
her rear end hard across the summer grass,
                ran back to the cave when we called her name.

We let her.

                        But as the sun turned pink,
our fear grew brave: we hid our faces, pulled her
from the concrete shadows.

                        A half-born pup
hung under her tail. We pulled again,
            this time at the little set of rigid feet.

She let us.

                    Thick fluid rushed onto flat
gray stone -- and the black-haired runt: too small to swell
her belly, too big to leave her. We named
                 and buried it under the large oak tree.

She let us.

                         We waved away a drooling
mutt who strayed again into our yard.
He sniffed at the hot air again and again,
his dark hair glistening in the sun.
He watched us dig, lazily turned away.

That night, the crickets screamed.

                                                        There was no wind.
In our wonderoos, we tugged the thin foam
mattress off our bunk onto the hardwood floor.

Though it was not allowed, she curled beside us.
She pulled the thin sheet off our legs and wrapped
herself in a tight cocoon.

                                               We let her.


A finalist for the 2014+ 2016 MacMillan Awards, Burton is a writer and filmmaker who won Common Ground Review's poetry prize, SIR’sWilhelmus award (non-fiction), the 2015 Ohio Arts Council's Individual Excellence Award for poetry. Publications includeNew Delta Review, Connecticut Review, Superstition Review, Los Angeles Review, and “The Burden of Light.” She helmsFIVE SISTERS PRODUCTIONS with her sisters (, where her current film is "Kings, Queens, & InBetweens," a documentary on dragand gender–onwhichshe recently gave a TedxTalk (