Poem for a Daughter
“I think I’m going to have it,”
I said, joking between pains.
The midwife rolled competent
sleeves over corpulent milky arms.
“Dear, you never have it,
we deliver it.”
A judgment years prove true.
Certainly I’ve never had you
as you still have me, Caroline.
Why does a mother need a daughter?
Heart’s needle, hostage to fortune,
freedom’s end. Yet nothing’s more perfect
than that bleating, razor-shaped cry
that delivers a mother to her baby.
The bloodcord snaps that held
their spheres together. The child,
tiny and alone, creates the mother.
A woman’s life is her own
until it is taken away
by a first particular cry.
Then she is not alone
but part of the premises
of everything there is:
a time, a tribe, a war.
When we belong to the world
we become what we are.
We sat on the bed - me still in my pyjamas, and my mum in tears, holding me. And then she went, as mums are wont to do, to make me a cup of tea. I felt quite tiny and yet quite old at the same time.