Remark of a Childless Man by Richard Outram

Encore Literary Magazine is extremely proud to have permission from the executors of the estate of the late Richard Outram to present work by one of Canada’s great poets. Poems by Outram will continue to be featured here, thus helping to keep alive the singular voice of, in the words of Alberto Manguel, “one of the finest poets in the English language.”

Remark of a Childless Man

Is an apostrophe, digressive, an aside
to someone absent. For about a day
we had an only daughter. Then she died.

My wife’s wet blood still stained her where she lay,
miraculous upon the housel-sheet,
a little life. Then she was whisked away.

She had such perfect curled and wrinkled feet
and tight-clenched fists and such an ancient face
and I could see her blue-veined temple beat.

We were informed such deaths are commonplace.
So I suppose it was. Some also said
kind Christian things concerning Faith and Grace

and shortly we were given in her stead
a little flask of ashes and a brief
Certificate that stated she was dead.

We were assured that time would salve our grief.
It has not. Some hold this given world
to be an illusion. A God beyond belief

might utter, had she lived how our chance-hurled
galaxy might otherwise have burned
throughout another universe unfurled

in fonder flame. But here we are. We learned
to mask our small loss; that there is no root
of consolation. True: she might have turned

to drink or drugs, become a prostitute;
or have been violated as a bride;
borne syphilitic morons to some brute;

or ended being slowly crucified
in some relentless God-forsaken way.
So. Lux est umbra Dei, I shall say.
We had an only daughter but she died.