Afterwards, I swaddle you in plastic sheets;
yellow and crumpled as an old raincoat,
they will protect you from the rain. Today
is the first and last day. I will not look
at your face, tiny and still-pink,
I know it will accuse me. But I see
your little fingers, cold and stiff as icicles
in the morning air. It’s better this way.
I place the only things I have to hand
in with you, to help you on your way;
my favourite shorts, hewn from faded jeans,
the hem trailing white cotton strings
like mucous. The shorts he ripped
from me. The pink bag I always wore
on my back – I give these to you.
You are light in my hand in the bag
as I walk, sore and torn and bleeding,
deciding. I want someone to find you.
You weigh less than a bag of shopping,
as I lift you into the bin, leave you
suspended in a clear, plastic womb.
(Short-listed by the Bridport Prize, unpublished)
That night we made you
in the forest,
lying in the orange two-man tent
in the middle of tall trees
dark like patterned cloth.
I woke next morning
listening to woodpigeons
rolling the sounds of summer
like toffees in their throats.
(The first time I ever really heard
the rhythm of their coos).
I dreamed you into being –
a child-shaped star falling
through the forest sky, lighting it with hope
like a Catherine wheel;
finding me, finding your home in me.
(From Salt-Sweat and Tears)
Louisa Adjoa Parker is of White English and Ghanaian heritage, and has lived in rural parts of the West Country for most of her life. Her first poetry collection Salt-Sweat and Tears was published in 2007 by Cinnamon Press. Her poetry pamphlet Blinking in the Light, has recently been published, also by Cinnamon. Louisa’s poetry and prose has been published in a range of anthologies, journals and online, which includes Envoi, Wasafiri, Coffee-House Poetry, Ouroboros, Ink Sweat and Tears, PennyShorts, Toasted Cheese, Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe) and Closure (Peepal Tree Press). Louisa has been highly commended by the Forward Prize and short-listed by the Bridport Prize. As well as fiction and poetry, Louisa has also written several books and exhibitions exploring the presence of BAME people in Dorset. She is currently working on two novels, one of which was long-listed by the Mslexia Novel Competition. Twitter @LouisaAdjoa