Tag Archives: Family

On Saskia, written in early January 2017

Her right foot isn’t quite right. Not left, just not right enough.

The midwife told us she’s seen some feet come out backwards though, which made us feel better.

She also has twin constellations, crimson-coloured. One on her crown and the other on nape of her neck, just above the hairline. Apparently they fix themselves too. Which is neat.

Her umbilical cord, having pulsed its last, was clamped with a little plastic thing that reminded me of putting out the washing. The weird stubby, well, stub (which I remember from the kittens born in the hot-water cupboard) healed quicker than my last google search said it might. Which, again, was worrisome (for some reason).

Now the baby bullet hole is weeping a little and I’m too scared to touch it. Not even with a wet cotton ball. And actually the midwife said to me on our last visit “Oh, you’re the dad who couldn’t look while I opened it up!” Yes that was me.

We are more or less resolved to an outie — but it could still go either way.

What can I say, it’s as new to us as it is to Saskia — only we have stretchier, more exercised imaginations at this point so can more readily envision the infinite ways for fate to fuck us up. She can see shadows too of course, but only ones about 10cm from her face.

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On a Friend Showing Me His First Scan

Another human floats in its mother’s waters
A hydronaut exploring the womb
Trailing a thin, curling cord, with arms held close

In the coming months change will come
The little one becoming less little
Its incubator too

Dad won’t stay the same either
Growing responsibility
And yet more love for them both

When the timer rings
The fertilised egg come to fruition
Another human floats into its mother’s world

They’re doing what comes naturally
Building x and y blocks
Mandrake fed

If we’re lucky, we’ll make children as well
Choosing names we’ve scribbled for ages
And living for ever

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Visiting Hour, Not Visiting Death

The bag landed with a flop.

At length a sandy haired boy stopped and stooped, looking expectantly over the footpath and into the gutter for the items that must have spilled out.

Meaning well, his efforts weren’t needed. The bag was all but empty, save for a worn photograph safely secreted in one of the silk-lined pockets.

She grimaced inwardly at those clear blue eyes clouding with pity, sweeping around to see if anyone else had halted, or noticed.

“Of course not,” she clucked, continuing to ghost through the bustle of those with somewhere to be. All their shoes beating a rapid tattoo on the concrete.


At the crossing now she’s watched the man turn green for the second time.

“Would you like some help?”

Deafly, “Excuse me?”

“Can I take your bag for you?”

“Oh no, I’m quite alright thank you. It’s practically empty.”

The face was already a blur. Merely a colour running back into the stream like one of so many salmon.  Still, he’d looked familiar.

But they all did.


“Isn’t that sad?”

“Isn’t what sad?”

“That lady there with the bird’s nest for hair and torn stockings. She just tripped over. Bag went flying.”

“Poor thing. Anyone help her?”

“A little boy did, yeah.”

“Was a guy texting on his mobile.”

“What was?”

“Who knocked old Betty over.”

“Guess she didn’t see it coming. He didn’t stop?”

“No, he had to press send I guess.”

“Isn’t that sad.”

“Isn’t it just.”


“Where was it again?” She forgot. Then she remembered.

A sign above the florist that put their flowers out in a rusty bucket just like her mother used to. All the varieties mixed together like the side of a country lane.

Making her way across the echoing foyer she waited for the lift, fretting. “I’ll just be in and out, he’s so busy.”

Ding. She shuffles in, and up.

Another ‘ding’ heralds her arrival onto one of the tower’s uppermost floors. Padding forward, like a door mouse from its bolt-hole, she advances the front desk.

About to speak, she’s cut off by a booming “Mum!”, as a tall man with steel coloured hair opens his arms.

“Just who I wanted to see”, pulling her into a bear hug, the woollen suit soft, welcoming, familiar. 


Over his shoulder she spies a photo on the far wall, a family portrait.

Moving closer, her hand in his, the image becomes clearer. Her son, his wife, the children. Her daughter and partner. And yes, even the cat’s there, the fussy thing, seated in a lap, her lap, smack bang in the middle.

Surrounded; a somebody after all.

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