They came for us as we breathed – unified and quivering
on blond gymnasium ash. Eager elbows of antennae
in a dark, tremulous lace as fourteen pregnant women
lay beached on Pilates mats. A midwife’s sudden alarm
at the trembling, advancing line but her panic was rebuffed
in a sports hall of barn proportions. We simply moved our mats
to start again, sprawled ourselves like snails. You stirred at this,
a prod of confirmation and I held my belly like a ready pear.
Opening an eye, I glimpsed the odd brave stray, its glossy nodes defined,
now free of the pack. I was squeezing my pelvic floor when they muscled
their way under and with one collective heave lifted me, inches
from the ground. Hard to believe I didn’t smash their shiny backs
as they marched me one triumphant lap, past the cracked heels
of tired, expectant women. As we headed for the door, I’m sure
I heard you laughing, felt you leap in me like mischief,
your mother superbly weightless, on a sheet of shivering black.
(published in The North, Autumn 2014 & in Her Wings of Glass, Second Light 2014).
The Woman, A Coat And Her Behaviour
I spot her trying on the coat from the far end
of the shop. She’s doing what normal women do –
turning a little this way, a little that way, in a swing
of black ribbon and felt. Her slim wrists slide
into pockets and her head tilts back to catch
her husband’s smile. She laughs at her own behaviour.
If customers knew she had a son wasting in a hospital,
would they approve of this coquettish dance? Parents
of the almost-dead cannot always be bed-side, reverent
and mute. This small act affirms what they had,
when a telephone call from their son was enough.
Let her arms fill the sleeves of a beautiful coat
before she delivers clean pyjamas, leans to kiss
a dumb mouth and carousels his life, from baby to boy.
Rebecca Goss has published The Anatomy of Structures Flambard, 2010 and Her Birth, Carcanet, shortlisted for The 2013 Forward Prize for Best Collection. In 2014 Rebecca Goss was selected as a Next Generation Poet.