Confession of a Mother Whose Children Have Died

Bless me father for I have sinned.
Itís been nine months since my last confession.
In that time, I opened the finch cage
releasing two sorry souls to freedom.

They died on my lawn,
mutilated by my cat, Lucifer.
The cat purred asking for absolution.
I carried the birds to the compost pile
feeding the worms and my garden.

Four times, or maybe five, I have dreamt
I drove through six flying finches,
hitting each one squarely on the windshield.
They slid off the hood, under my tires.
With my children now missing
from the back seat, I hardly noticed the bump.

Forgive me father. I canít
recall their vivid avian colors.
I named them after my children,
Oriole June and Robin May,
each middle name given away deftly,
my children never using them.
I offer their first names as an afterthought.

Falling birds multiply faster than the naming.
The last two finches I call
Death and Destruction
They never rise back up
even though the dream continues.

How many Our Fathers must I say
for the six, snuffed lives?
Is each weighed equally?
Can I bargain with you father?
I am now ready
to make my act of contrition.

Forget the first names of my children.
I only thought each thud sounded like flesh.

by Cynthia Pratt

Cynthia Pratt has a teaching degree from Humboldt State College in California and a master's degree in environmental studies from The Evergreen State College in Olympia. She resides in Lacey, Washington with her husband and works as a Biologist with the State Department of Fish and Wildlife. Her poems have been published in Jeopardy, Crab Creek Review, Steelhead Special, Exhibition, Pontoon, and other publications. Her poems also appeared on Seattle Metro buses chosen by the Seattle Arts and Bus Program and on the Tacoma buses chosen by the Tacoma Arts Commissions' Bus Poetry Contest. Other awards include those from the Washington Poet's Association, Washington Writer's Association and from the Signpost Press.

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