Trigger Warning: abortion, miscarriage, bleeding



In my dream, you have chestnut hair that hangs over your forehead sticking to a sweaty brow.

In my dream, you have a toothy smile with a little gap in the front. Skinned knees and a dirt stain on your cheek.

You’re older than my son. A boy, too. Sweet and not yet sixteen.

In my dream, you love me; I am your mother, after all. I held you through every storm and you nursed from my breast.

I have healed every wound with a kiss. Puckered pink scars all along your olive skin to remind us of all the falls we’ve taken together.

In my dream, you ride your bike up the road and I wave goodbye.

It’s okay.

Everything is okay.
I can let go now.

But in my dream—now my nightmare—you never come back.



In reality, you were too scary.

For something so tiny, nary a grain of rice, you were too big. My whole life unfurling at only eighteen. When I haven’t tasted life or touched true love.

In reality, I have nothing to offer you. I am still a wounded daughter and I don’t know yet how to be a healed mother.

I will, someday.
I’m sorry I couldn’t be for you.

In reality, you are ripped from my body where you were safely growing in a sterile room with too many witnesses. I will clutch my stomach and grieve for you for years to come. I will dream of my belly being cracked open like an egg as I panic, trying to hold the broken pieces of me together.

In reality, the evidence of you is soaked into maxi pads so thick they could be blankets and stuffed into grocery bags so no one will ever see.

I wonder if I will ever see you again. Because at 18, I am sure you are going to heaven, and I— I will surely rot in hell.

In reality, you are the first miscarriage, blood pouring down my legs as I sob in a bathroom begging for help.

In reality, you are the second one, too. The baby we tried for months to conceive, gone with a single cramp and trip to the bathroom.

Maybe this is my punishment, I think.

Tainted. Cursed.


But that can’t be right because two beautiful babies do come. They change my world. Everything is them. Their tiny toes and toothy smiles. Their chestnut hair that sticks to sweaty foreheads.
I hold them through every storm. I nurse them at my breast. I heal every wound with a kiss. I look at them and feel like a monster for sending you away even if that was the best gift I could have given to you.

In reality, you are my third miscarriage.

Then my fourth.

In reality, I see you in so many faces…

It’s okay, I think.
It’s been so many years and I am beautifully happy.

Everything is okay.
I can let go now.

Photo by Irene Giunta on Unsplash

Toni Keniston

Toni Keniston is a BIPOC and queer writer, creator, and coach living in Raleigh, NC with her two wildling children and wonderful husband. Her favorite mediums include photography, digital illustration, and writing. She has created and published Modern Divinity Oracle Deck and founded Diabolical Woman™, a coaching modality designed to help creatives turn their passions into their paychecks.