Poetry Daily: Miss Brevity

Miss Brevity

I made the gown myself from minutes
held together with safety pins, and

wore it as I wafted through the nursery
pouring light all over the crowns
of their heads. All

those ghostly babies in their rows. Oh,

you swear you’ll remember us forever,
but you won’t.

Laura Kasischke

There are so many images I enjoy in this poem. The act of pouring light, for one, and the ambiguity of the first line (either they are the minutes held together by safety pins, or the newborn’s gown itself). Delivery room nurses must have a wonderful job. My mom used to hold that position, and it never seemed like work, she said. Caring for newborns is knowing how to give unconditional love, immediately, to something that can’t return it.

The images of the ghostly faces lined in rows also speaks of nurses of another kind, using that same unconditional love to save endangered lives.

The title speaks volumes, for nurses are rarely addressed by their first name, even though their lives are so personally connected to the patient, even if only for a brief time. Calling her “Miss” rather that “Mrs.” emphasizes the singularity of her position towards the many she cares for. It also coincides with how children address their first pre-school teachers or caretakers, Miss so and so, rather than the plain name.

2 Responses to “Poetry Daily: Miss Brevity”

  1. Leah says:

    I love this poem, too! I think it is interesting that minutes and clothing are compared: babies grow so quickly that they constantly need new clothes. They are so briefly in safety pins! I also like the sacred feeling that is imbued in the glowing babies’ crowns and the fact that they are “ghostly.” It seems like the babies are lined up in rows just like a graveyard of sorts, making the babies even more sacred somehow.

  2. […] an earlier draft of the poem published on Poetry Daily in 2006 and reproduced in a couple of blogs, did have “Oh.” That version is otherwise identical to the poem in the catalog. So at some point Kasischke decided […]