Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lines written while sitting up with a sick child

Inside our darkened lounge kitchen dining
(one space for all our living)
The clock keeps a steady heart
The tin roof shrinks at intervals
As outside the temperature drops.
The sharp contractions sound
Like a giant curious finger
Rousing life in this insect house.
Tap tap. Tap tap tap.
Sometimes it finds its rhythm
But it can’t keep up
With the clock’s steadfast drum.

Today in the late winter sun
Una and I walked the dirt tracks.
We stopped to talk to a neighbour who was
In her garden raking up leaves
To feed the tamed appetites of two garden fires.
We marvelled at the roundness of me:
Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?
It’s a baby brother, Una said.
The neighbour said
I have a name for you
And offered it up, a single word,
Muttered over her twin fires like a spell.
It means resolute protector.
Una and I went further up the hill
Her short legs soon growing tired of the climb
We took a short cut behind the houses
Through the bush.
We discovered a toadstool
She stumbled on the downwards path
Air and light entered us.

The fridge whirrs into life.
Una on the couch
Dwells at the border of sleep
Her eyelids fluttering open.
Tap. Tap tap.

Deep in the well of my flesh
The unnamed
Baby in darkness
Taps back.


  1. That is beautiful, Penni.

  2. Yes, beautiful.

    Thank you.

  3. Very beautiful. It's a particular kind of time, isn't it, when you are home with a sick child. Everything seems to slow down and quieten and there is a lot of just sitting by bedsides and cuddles. Definitely conducive to poetry writing...

  4. Ah! Thanks, Penni!