Wednesday, 17 February 2010


McDade Trophy 2nd Place

The shock when you said,
at fifteen, ‘Sit down,
I’m pregnant, it’s ok;
the arrangements are made;
don’t tell Dad.’
Those long nights awake,
adjusting, then watching
your schoolgirl frame grow tired;
I wrote deceitful notes
to your teacher
to excuse you from dance,
waited in terrified secrecy
for the clinic,
cash payment, and overnight stop,
your first stay away from us.
While the world turned, as it does,
the boyfriend moved on,
and after a time, so did you.
I began to count time,
guilt rising in my gut,
imagining ‘it’ now at 2, 6 and 10,
wondering how our lives might have been.
Fifteen years on
you’re accomplished,
a joy, a dancer, a beauty
with a husband who loves you.
But the pain when
your babies, in quick succession,
abort themselves,
1, 2, 3, 4,
leave us flailing,
our empty wombs wailing,
our mothers’ arms heavy
with wanting.
I see them, you know;
they hang from your skirt,
your coat sleeves,
the ends of your long blond hair.
Your children,
they call you by name.
Dorothy Nelson

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