“Complications at Birth” by Barry Ballard

Barry Ballard


She was as timid as a blue heron’s
shadow standing at the edge of silent
waters, looking out over its sickened
mirror of emptiness. And the offense
of her child’s deformity left us shattered
to tears, where her trembling hand kept reaching
for answers in mine (as if this backward
stare could close and keep her mind from weakening).

And, in that moment, her best ideas
of “love” and “motherhood” were already
deteriorating, splitting like the sun-dried
timber we leaned against, opening her
pain to scenes that should have flown away, thoughts
afraid to be there in the smear of open sky.

from Rattle #19, Summer 2003


Barry Ballard: “Like everyone, I reach for answers in someone else’s hand. My poetry is an expression of that reaching—maybe for God, maybe for my own identity, maybe for something that can stop the speeding confusion and reclaim that wonderful thing called meaning. And sometimes it goes even deeper—when someone reaches for me.”

Rattle Logo