In a World Where Birth is a Time for Grief as Soon as She Knows – Paul Brookes



she will not forego it.
Happy for it to chew on darkness,

drink fetid air, have bloated ribs.
She will starve it.
She buys the black lace dress,
gossamer veil:

a frail black rose
for her pregnancy.
Her spouse cowers
in the corners of her busyness,

helps where she’ll allow,
through her stony hail of
“You’ve condemned me to this.”
He traces the conception

of the perturbation
to the joyous festivities
of her Dads funeral:
amid the rave, giggles and fun,

summer coloured graves,
brightly coloured market
stalls held up by gravestones,
he humps the fresh juice

of her warm almond sinews,
in the rainbow buntinged,
neon flash bedecked graveyard.
The grief is due in nine months,

and in tears we help her
cope, with stock for her bottom drawer:
pink/blue bootees, the sleepsuits.
It takes all her strength

to get from room to room
as the hungry darkness grows
inside her heavier and heavier.
She is sharp tongued,

her words dry, pointed, severe,
as empty as hoarfrost,
will not suffer fools
who say “It’s a happy time.”

She sets aside a little room
for the dark cot, and paints
the cracked walls
with shadowy cartoon figures.

Glum mobiles hang down,
to entertain the unwanted guest,
the cuckoo bully,
or lull it to thankful sleep.

If she cannot kill it, she expects it
to give her, at least, thirty years
penal struggle and pain.
After push, needles and gulped blood,

scar of blistered birth,
the weight shifts from her front,
to her shoulders, the pain,
to her thighs and feet.

She tells spouse and babby,
“Wish you would die,
so I can be happy.”
The black rose wilts.

Paul Brookes has been published in many magazines in south west England. He performed as a member of the poetry in performance group “Rats for Love” and his work was included in their 1989 publication “Rats for Love: The Book” by Bristol Broadsides.

His first chapbook published in 1993 was “The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley” by Dearne Community Arts.


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