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BooksSeptember 14, 2018

The Friday Poem: ‘Mère-mare’ by Emma Neale

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New verse by Dunedin writer Emma Neale.




Last night in my sleep

my baby’s father came

to take him away from me.


I had borne a boy

I was forbidden to hold

though his mouth was sere and sore

and golden colostrum welled in me

like the cells’ own cry for water.


I had done some terrible thing —

and as I slowly woke to it,

groping for knowledge as if for watch or lamp,

the baby gazed at me

with ancient desperation;

yet flat, dim shapes dragged me back

as my breasts wept runnels of milk’s white lava;

and the new father spoke

with the crackle of plastic,

swore the new mother could never

bear to see me; said I’d signed a pact

to render my child unto them

as if the body were merely an ice cube mold

that only had to heat and flex a little

to release its self-compacted pockets

of piquant, enigmatic sweetness.


When I truly woke

and both real sons crept in close beside me,

tousled heads bunting the crook of my arms, my neck

like young steers remembering their udder-honey,

even then, the scalpel of loss hooked deep, scored deeper —

even now, something naked, lowing and primate haunts here


terrified of what truths speak through dreams.


Emma Neale, 2018

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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