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
The Spinoff Review of Books is brought to you by Unity Books.
The Spinoff Review of Books is proudly brought to you by Unity Books.