I kept you in bed with me so many nights,
certain I could hold the life into you,
certain that the life in you wanted to leap out, hare-like,
go bobbing off into some night-field.
For want of more eyes, more arms
I strapped you to me while I did the dishes, cooked, typed,
your little legs frogging
against the deflating dune of your first home.
Nested you in a car seat while I showered, dressed,
and when you breastfed for hours and hours
I learned how to manoeuvre the cup and book around you.
Time and friends and attitudes, too.
We moved breakables a height, no glass tables.
Fitted locks to the kitchen cupboards, door jammers,
argued about screws and pills someone left within reach.
I’ll not tell you how my breath left me, how my heart stopped
at your stillness in the cot, and who I became
when at last you moved. There is no telling
what skins of me have dropped and shed in the fears
I’ve entered. What I will say is that the day
beyond these blankets, beyond our door
is known to me now, fragile as moth-scurf,
its long ears twitching, alert,
white tail winking across the night-field.  

by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

The Poetry Centre is collaborating on a one-day symposium for a second time with the University of Reading and the International Poetry Studies Institute (IPSI), based at the University of Canberra. The symposium, entitled ‘Contemporary Lyric: Absent Presences, the Secret & the Unsayable’, will take place on Tuesday 26 June from 9.30-5pm at the Museum of Early Rural Life at the University of Reading. The event is free to attend and all are welcome but places are limited. Find out more and sign up to attend via our website

The Poetry Centre recently launched our 2018 International Poetry Competition! Open until 6 August, the competition has two categories – Open and English as an Additional Language – and this year is judged by the highly-acclaimed poet Kayo Chingonyi. You can find full details and enter here . 

Finally, join Poetry in the Meeting House @ 43 St Giles Oxford on Wednesday 11 July at 7pm to hear American poet Lauren Rusk, who will be reading from and talk about her recent book of poems What Remains To Be Seen. The book is inspired by children’s art from Theresienstadt concentration camp. Everyone is welcome.

‘Hare’ is copyright © Carolyn Jess-Cooke, 2013. It is reprinted from Writing Motherhood (Seren Books, 2017) by permission of  Seren Books.

Notes from Seren:

Writing Motherhood features a chorus of voices on the wonders and terrors of motherhood and the myriad ways that a creative life can be ignited and/or disrupted by the pressures of raising children. Thought-provoking essays, interviews and poetry by high-profile writers detail experiences of creating art while engaging in the compelling, exhausting, exhilarating work of motherhood. 

Editor Carolyn Jess-Cooke introduces this important anthology which re-considers ‘the pram in the hallway’ as explosively nuanced. Entries include an insightful interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Sharon Olds, excerpts from Hollie McNish’s diary, Carol Ann Duffy’s beautiful portrait of being and having a daughter, specially commissioned poems by Sinéad Morrissey, Rebecca Goss, and many others. Crime fiction fans will enjoy C.L. Taylor’s witty essay, ‘How Motherhood Turned Me to Crime’, and Nuala Ellwood’s heart-wrenching depiction of miscarriage and loss. This anthology is a vital exploration of the complexities of contemporary sexual politics, publishing, artistic creation, and twenty-first century parenting. Find out more about the anthology via the Seren website.

Carolyn Jess-Cooke is a poet who has published two collections from Seren, the most recent being Boom. She is also the author of several bestselling novels including the 2017, I Know My Name, which is being made into a television series. You can read more about her work on her website

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers. 

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