Thursday, October 29, 2009


I am working right up until my deadline. Mary is coming to Phoenix tomorrow, and up until 7 p.m. I still had not finished all the pages. A lot of other things got accomplished: shopping for book cover materials, cleaning the house in preparation for her visit, grouting the bathtub.... but today I had to have all the pages done. We will only have five days to bind the book, IN THE TRENCHES, Hart Island, New York, and we still have to create the cover... but that is another story.

So today I started out recreating the back of the wonderful little Russian language cards I have in my drawer of ephemera. They were just perfect for this page, except the text on the back was upside down (so you could turn it over for easy studying). I wanted to be able to read the back through the paper, so you could know what was on the front in Russian. This page started out with an ink jet printout of a baby being delivered with forceps. This image is from a medical book from the 17th century. (It was printed on tracing paper and glued to the page.) It was so round and flower like, it reminded me of a rose bud, and so I added petals to give the feeling of a bloom, a bloom that sadly died all too fast, just like cut flowers. I wanted a line of text to fit into the stitched area and Todd suggested the delivery doctor's sad expression of "I am sorry to have to tell you..." It was perfect. I had added the dandelion (rub on) looking blossom to symbolize the fragility of life and the feeling that these dead babies memories have been blown away like the tiny spores of the flower.

This page faces the very, very somber photo transfer of parents mourning their dead baby. To me all they heard from the doctor's message was dead, dead, dead.... I could not bear to add anything else for their sorrow is all to overwhelming.

detail of transfer

I had not had great success with doing the transfers, but today for some reason it all came together. Maybe it has something to do with the cold weather we are experiencing.

So I admit, I was inspired by an artist that I have just found online who does a collage a day. This prompted me to make a small collage for the last page. I keep feeling like these "lost" children, these forgotten, had families who must have written letters, and communicated about their experience.

There is this empty feeling in me when I think that they never got to read a book, or go to school, or play, it's all so sad. I take some of this personally as I miscarried two babies in the early stages of my pregnancies, and sometimes I think of what they might have been had they not been flushed out of my body so spontaneously and prematurely and subsequently flushed down the toilet.

To symbolize the numerous babies that have been buried at Hart Island I just drew counting marks over and over and over.

This is the end of my pages. I cannot wait to see Mary and all the wonderful work she has done. She inspires and amazes me.

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