Psalms for a Child Who Has Lost Her Mother by Carol Japha




These are powerful poems that capture loss, not only the loss of a mother, but of the “birthright” of memory and mourning.


The first section records the events, the death, and the child’s exclusion:
At the graveside in the hot June sun,/if I had been there/in a smocked yellow dress/and white patent shoes,/helping to toss the earth,/ the shovel too heavy,/watching the dirt spill down./I would have known/in my fingertips,/in my toes,/in my arms, shivering in a heatwave,/what never was spoken,/never was allowed to be said.


The second part clarifies the nature of this loss, of the shared identity of mother and child, beautifully expressed as: The echo in your words,/your deeds,/the voice whispering in your head./The chorus for your enthusiasm,/the oxygen for your breath.


We gather that the father remarries, and we feel the resulting dislocation and confusion: “You could almost miss the cast change as the play continued on.”


The third section is more prayer and psalm-like, an effort to “conjure presence.” The poems express yearning as the child/poet is almost able to capture a vision, “can almost see the forgotten, yearned-for, sacred face.”

–Constance Waeber Elsberg, author of Graceful Women

Rating: ***** [5 of 5 Stars!]


Carol Japha knows the territory of loss and betrayal. With the innocent simplicity of a child’s understanding and the honed language of an adult poetic sensibility, Japha offers hard-earned crystalline wisdom in each of the poems in this collection.
–Amy Weintraub, author of Yoga for Depression and Yoga Skills for Therapists

Rating: ***** [5 of 5 Stars!]


It’s under an “infinite wingspan” that Carol Japha gathers together the painful details of a child losing her mother. Nothing of the young girl’s torment is too small to be recognized and, in that way, honored. “Shelter her with your wings,” she pleads. With no sentimentality, the poems chronicle the child’s immersion in the unthinkable–a rare and revealing achievement.
–Mary Ann Larkin, author of A Shimmering That Goes with Us

Rating: ***** [5 of 5 Stars!]


In these beautifully spare poems, Carol Japha gives voice, with uncanny accuracy, to a young girl’s bereavement. Psalms for a Child is an unusually accomplished debut.
–Nancy Willard, author, Swimming Lessons: New and Selected Poems

Rating: ***** [5 of 5 Stars!]




Psalms for a Child Who Has Lost Her Mother

by Carol Japha

paper, $14.49

Carol Japha was born in London and grew up in Chicago. As an editor and nonprofit executive, she worked at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Viking Press, Population Council, and Charles H. Revson Foundation. As a writer and aspiring artist, she has participated in workshops and residencies including Bennington, VCCA, and Silvermine School of Art (CT). More writing and artwork can be found on her blog, She is at work on a novel.

Rating: ***** [5 of 5 Stars!]


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