Glossary of birthing terms

Marisa Cappetta 2014

Her foot is a page in an atlas,
a map of her birth road.

She is slung in a hammock oriented
between theodolites of twin aunts.

Her grandmothers harvest
long grass along the shoreline

and weave a cradle, dolls with
downy hair, and a birthing blanket.

For the first nine months her father
is a whisper in her ear,

her mother a thunder of heartbeat.
When she is nursed and nuzzled

she sees them as an aerial survey,
or nine patch quilt blocks.

She is a transparency of veins, like roads
overlaid on the contours of her parents.

She was there in the room

Marisa Cappetta 2014

She was there in the room, and in
the petri dish, when they were made.

Her first child, a daughter, is red dirt.
She blew away in the easterlies.

Her second child, a son this time,
is fog bound. He scurries in the valley until

the sun burns him away, drives him into
the hills. He chases wallabies with fingers of mist.

Her third child is a black cygnet.
It paddles up river before it can be sexed.

The fourth child is knitted by her sister.
She splits a stitch and one becomes two.


Jeni Curtis 2014


She dreamed she was a seal

submerged in grey-green waters

another at her side.

no want for breath,

no need to surface

they swam in the depths of the ocean

with whales, dolphins

and darting fish.


On the dresser,

sculpted in black-green stone

a seal,

underneath, a name,

Simanil Kelly, carver,

whom I will never meet.

The heat from my hand

warms its smoothness.

The black and pale striations

speak of its place in the earth

long before it was granted

this shape

this shine.

It does not breathe.

It lies askance, laughing,

flippers raised

in a solid show of joy.


Far below

seals bask in the brisk wind,

the blue-grey sea lashes its foam

and froth across the rocks.

Their fur is wet and shining.

They lie like outcrops,

humped and creased

and rounded.

In the waves

seals body surf and slide.

Pups in a pool

cavort and tussle.

One sleek female lies on her side,

flipper raised nonchalantly,

fingers gloved in leather.

Look, I say,

Look, look,

she’s waving.

On the stone wall

beside me

the little girl waves back,

her other hand clasped warm in mine,

her breath upon my ear.

A thousand loops of time

Stephanie Grieve 2014

Since she lost her little girl

my friend counts time

instead of sleeping

in hours

as well as days:

about a thousand now, just over.

As a child, time loops

and loops

refusing to be tethered.

Aged five, our Zo‘ë tries to shape it

imagines it perhaps

as an oblong between birthdays.

And don’t you think I know

that as I race, stretching it to fit

I am being disrespectful?

That I will wake one day

unable to rise

paralysed by the pain of it:

this insistence

on looking back, glorifying

temps perdu

the constant search for it

by tying things up

to the present

She lives up North now’days. Couple of labs for company.

Even this perfume reminds me

of our trip three months ago

impossible brilliance

the sky every bit as azur

as that eponymous coast.

Late Spring promising the world

to silken lovers lying

on daybeds, limbs and perfect youth

displayed under orange umbrellas.

We returned via that long-haul washing machine

to Winter, grief

the trick of hemispheres.

Low cloud rolling in

over our thin strip of island

making set to stay.

Now we collect the instants as memories

like broken shells from the beach

as many as the palm can hold.

In old age, time seems to doze

an afternoon nap

then suddenly, dusk.

Sepilock Trickery

Gail Ingram 2014

A green-leaf bird
or a green leaf

from the canopy
or a butterfly
brushing apricot petals?
A flower

or the gleam
of a Slow Loris eye

or a giant flying squirrel
climbing like a cat
into the canopy
leaping and gliding
through the thickening sky
and closing his arms?
A magnificent seedhead

or a winged lizard crashing
to the trilling undergrowth,
now a twig?
Or is it a vine/vein/snake
on the seraya tree?

Jo travels as a kaka

Kerrin P Sharpe 2014

even before your mother
touches the black Madonna’s robe
or begs for a year of grace

Jo flies towards you through the pink
and white rose petals
above high winds and power cuts

you hear her first
and remember when you drew
a kaka in gouache

and coloured pencil
from a Gregg’s jelly card
these nights you light

the red-orange neck
of a candle to see
her scarlet under wings

to know she’ll always live
in the powdered wood of her eggs


Lucy D’aeth 2014

in Latimer Square,

a magpie gargles her morning report
no change overnight
just the same slow deconstruction

in Latimer Square,
knitted sheep graze
beyond the sterile lawns
bulldozers flock to nibble down buildings
they bow and scrape
and peck it to dust

nom nom

numb numb