The first time I saw your potential – the only time – you pulsed, vibrated, shone.
You were sound made image beside me.
I couldn't hear the frequencies that revealed you, but you looked a picture.
As your cells scattered the waves, your small form reflected . . .
you were an apparition.
We didn't get a print out.
A year ago this week I had a miscarriage. It's a mundane term for such a loss – there was no justice involved. I had 'lost' something and I didn't manage to find it again. I was 8 weeks 4 days pregnant by someone's calculations. More than a twinkle in a father's eye, less than three lunar cycles.
I wrote the text 'Echo Chamber' a few weeks after it happened. An ultrasound scanner had probed the little attempt at life and deemed it 'viable'. A few days later we unfortunately discovered it wasn't.
I'm not going to talk about the painful physical reality of the process of miscarriage here, or the emotional aftermath. Though every woman's experience is of course completely different, I'm pretty sure anyone who has been through it can attest to the fact it is brutal and can be very lonely (for the partners of the women too). Suffice to say it took quite a while for me to feel myself again – at points last year I felt like I was just going through the motions – but gradually I realised I had started to feel better and this coincided with a proliferation of my everyday image-making.
Recently I have been working on a series of images collected under the banner title 'Escaping the Edge'. The images depict the play of light on various transparent surfaces. The edge in question refers simply and literally to the four sides that generally form the perimeter of an image – which in this series are softened and blurred. With the dissolving of this customary boundary, focus is instead drawn to a central element, allowing insubstantial glints, shimmering reflections and unstable refractions to take centre stage.
These images aren't intended to talk about miscarriage – how could they? They are what they are – water, plastic, sunlight, glass – but we know that our experiences shape the way we relate to images. As I read 'Echo Chamber' again recently, I was struck by the connection between them and the image I hold in my mind of that little flash of potential that never came to being. The subconscious is an unruly beast. Our little apparition didn't have a chance to make an impact on the world, but perhaps it slightly altered the way I look at it, and for that I thank it.
PS. I'm aware that the sentimentality of the thoughts above may seem a bit romantic for others to relate to their own experience of miscarriage. If anyone reading this has gone through/is going through the awful spectrum of emotions that are felt during and after a miscarriage and would like to talk, please feel free to contact me.
Also www.tommys.org is an excellent resource for miscarriage support and advice.