The Smallest Things

The Smallest Things
Brian Leingang

The smallest thing holds the most power,
especially when there is no control over it.
Every decision is on hold until there is certainty:
to buy a bigger car, which room to decorate.

It is such a delicate process—the timing,
the dedication, the failure month after month.
It can come—and go—without so much as a sign
as if a single thought could undo all of it.

She reclines in the exam room to hear
the bleeding absence of a heart beating,
a loss immeasurable, the silence
within the hum of the ultrasound machine.

What was it? Is it better
to think of it as a nothing, unformed and empty,
not of a potential thing it could have been?
The nurse doesn’t look up: “Try again.”

We go over it again and again to find a reason.
Was it the wine before we knew, that pothole we hit,
too much stress at work? A sip of coffee, bad food,
negative thoughts, a bad joke, something on the news?

There’s never a greater burden
than the things we miscarry.
That word cuts too deep. As if
she were a quarterback during a game—

Missing the snap, fumbling the handoff.
Those would be easier to diagnose.
Our mistakes, tangible and real,
Study-able, viewable, correctable from highlight reels.

Not so in our ever rolling replay
of doubt and self-blame.
When there are double lines on the test
and on the second test—just to make sure—

there is no knowing, only hoping and fearing.
Tension builds up and grows
until it, too, bursts forth with that first cry
that is sweeter than all the agony.

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