Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Plaintive Music

Ron Domen
Pennsylvania, United States


Poet’s statement: The loss of an unborn child through miscarriage, abortion, or premature death is always a highly charged emotional event for the parents. My poem is an attempt to not only capture the emotion of such an event but also to be mindful that life is renewed. The inspiration for “Plaintive Music” came from the loss of an unborn child that affected me and my wife.

Plaintive music

On that day in waning winter
as the sunrise spread red-orange
and purple like a bruise only

the brightest star Sirius could still
be seen pulsating like the dot
of heart on the sonogram

of our unborn child wrapped
in ariled darkness before it too
disappeared in the morning light.

Now in the last days of summer
newly hatched cicadas brown-red
as blood clots rise from grounded

dormancy on journeys marked
by liturgical drones until their bronzed
chitinous skin becomes too tight

to hold such plaintive music
and splits to leave behind empty
hard-shelled wombs.


Photography by Luis Argerich


RON DOMEN, MD, is professor of pathology, medicine, and humanities at the Penn State College of Medicine/Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. He has taught medical humanities to medical students and is also a member of the The Doctors Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine at Penn State’s College of Medicine. His poems have appeared in several literary journals and anthologies.


Highlighted in Frontispiece Fall 2012 – Volume 4, Issue 4
Fall 2012  |  Sections  |  Poetry

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