I kept you in bed with me so many nights,
certain I could hold the life into you,
certain that the life in you wanted to leap out, hare-like,
go bobbing off into some night-field.
For want of more eyes, more arms
I strapped you to me while I did the dishes, cooked, typed,
your little legs frogging
against the deflating dune of your first home.
Nested you in a car seat while I showered, dressed,
and when you breastfed for hours and hours
I learned how to manoeuvre the cup and book around you.
Time and friends and attitudes, too.
We moved breakables a height, no glass tables.
Fitted locks to the kitchen cupboards, door jammers,
argued about screws and pills someone left within reach.
I’ll not tell you how my breath left me, how my heart stopped
at your stillness in the cot, and who I became
when at last you moved. There is no telling
what skins of me have dropped and shed in the fears
I’ve entered. What I will say is that the day
beyond these blankets, beyond our door
is known to me now, fragile as moth-scurf,
its long ears twitching, alert,
white tail winking across the night-field.
Carolyn Jess-Cooke is a poet and novelist. Her beautiful poem ‘Hare’ has been commended in the National Poetry Competition, and was placed in the top ten out of 12,085 entries. Her poem ‘Home Birth‘ also recently featured in the New Statesman. Her second collection of verse, BOOM!, explores motherhood and is published by Seren Books.
Carolyn’s Writing Motherhood project is underway, with the first event happening on 13th April at the Wordsworth Trust and the launch of BOOM! at the Hexham Book Festival. On Saturday 14th June she will be performing at the Belfast Book Festival with Debi Gliori and Sinead Morrissey, and on Saturday 5th July she will perform with Hollie McNish and Rebecca Goss at the Ledbury Poetry Festival.
Carolyn has also accepted an academic post in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, which will commence in September. As part of her new role she will developing a research project about mental health – also the subject of her next poetry collection.