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Books & Poetry

Poems on the bonds of motherhood

Books & Poetry

In this week’s Poet’s Corner, Lyn Reeves shares three poems that express the connection – tender, primal and fierce – between mother and baby.

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The Quickening

Until the moment when
I felt you tremor within me,
like a blue butterfly sipping
rain puddles in the lane
you were only
a breast-tender thought
an abstraction of light
playing through lantana leaves
a haze muting the rounded hills
that swelled my close horizon.

With the first flutter
of your nascent limbs
my world turned over
the girl I was became
mantled by the word:

Origin of Beads

It begins with the nipple –
its hard
ridges and granulations
the brush
of newborn fingers across
a milk-taut breast,
measure of earth’s curvature,
feeding the primal thirst
for touch.

It begins with the eye
before language strings
syllables into speech
the word in a glance
in a look that fondles
the contours of a milk-soft
head, vulnerable cheek;
feasts on the sweetness
of new skin and traps
in a kaleidoscopic net
the infant’s gaze, hooked
by light.

This fierce joy
this hunger for flesh
a God
born of her flesh
is the first bead.

Primal Sense

I soap his newborn skin
with sandalwood, massage
his elastic limbs with oil
pressed from the stones
of apricots, outline each
sculpted finger and toe
and stroke the smooth planes
of his soles. Vertebrae ripple
beneath my hands like birdsong.

If smell is primal sense
I want his memories to be
milk and honey and spice.
I want to rub away the cold
odour of a glass crib, the bland
steel instruments, the meaty
pungency of blood. I want to plant
his morning with fruit trees
and forests of fragrant wood.

Lyn Reeves grew up near the beach in Sydney and now lives by the coast east of Hobart. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Canberra, and as well as writing poetry and fiction she has worked in art galleries, been a children’s librarian, a teacher of library and information studies, associate editor for the long-standing literary journal Famous Reporter, and owner-publisher of small publisher Pardalote Press. Her own sixth and most recent poetry collection, Designs on the Body, won the Interactive Press Picks Best Poetry Award. She has read at many festivals and venues around Australia, had her work on the ABC’s national programme Poetica, and been translated into French and Russian. More about Lyn and her work can be found here and here.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to A poetry book will be awarded to each contributor.
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