The Moon is Coming With Us
for Daniel C. Roper, IV,
September 9, 1995 - December 4, 1995
by Janice Roper, 8/1/96
reprinted with permission
There was a full moon on the night of your birth
Painful screams from other mothers crowded
in curtained cubicles overflowing the ward.
Screams singing into tiny newborn cries -- an aria
of new life beginning, new hopes molded through pain.
In epidural comfort I smiled, felt your brave
struggle to join the living world.
You burst strong, yelling, red faced,
high scores, a healthy boy. Family members
waiting to hold you. We named you
Daniel C. Roper, IV -- taking
the best of the past
as foundation for your bright
There was a full moon on the night of your funeral.
The stars were tears or maybe tingles of agony
The kind that makes knees buckle and eyes
swim. Peripheral vision turns black.
The moon was steady, perfectly round
with craggly shadows, disgustingly the same
as it has been every 28 days. Time moving forward
when time should have
and wept over you.
Your sister is three now.
At her birthday party I held
your same age cousin: 10 months old.
He was sleeping, breathing,
he was warm across my lap and chest and inside
my arms. I closed my eyes
and imagined it was you.
We told your sister that you
are dancing on the moon.
So now, when she sees the moon
from her car seat, trailing along the sky
she shouts: "The moon is coming with us!"
And you are
but from an impossible distance.
I imagine those other mothers now
giggling with their 10 month olds, planning
a first year birthday party.
I am planning one for you too
Cake and balloons at the cemetery
But my brain is a curtained cubicle
echoing in painful screams.
Mother of Daniel C. Roper, IV 9/9/95-12/4/95 and Selena G. Roper 7/17/93