Bring Me Something Back
We came to buy a Plaster Saint,
I had forgotten that. He remembers
a Bleeding Christ, pinned to a cross,
a pale green glow-in-the-dark Rosary.
This time, I choose a Sacred Heart.
In her front room, Catholic Gran holds
the Heart, gazes away her thoughts,
closes the door on the painted pine cupboard
where she keeps all Daddy’s gifts.
Evening comes relieving day of its duty.
A wind born on an ocean far away collapses
in the lap of trees.
Labour’s pain, a cotton stitch pulled tight
across her hips, folds her over, soft as a blanket.
Breath suffocates her words –
profanities formed of aspirants and fricatives.
He takes her, drapes her over the birthing bed.
Through a crack in the windows the wind cries;
he hears it as a gentle whine below
the deafening creak of impressed teeth
against her lips. She’ll never scream.
Her heels drum hard against the mattress.
The midwife moves on the edge of silence,
Her apron catching threads along the bed frame.
His hand on the bottle his only strength;
The cold fear striking his chest. What can he say,
With only the begging wind to hear?
Dragged from his whiskey-doze, he wakes
For a child who enters the world sobbing.
Behind the door, the midwife tucks away all tears.
He turns the knob slowly needing time to practise,
She is so new. Her mother, troubled only by pain
Asks ‘how are you feeling?’
Shortlisted in the Bridport Prize 2012
Janet Dean Knight was born in Barnsley and now lives in York. Her poetry has appeared in print in a number of anthologies and magazines, including Skein published by Templar, Ours edited by Maureen Duffy, Hysteria 3 and Ariadne’s Thread, and online in The Morning Star, Message in a Bottle and York Mix. She was shortlisted in the Bridport Prize in 2012, and commended in the Stanza Poetry Competition in 2015, and in 2016 co-edited and launched The Friargate Anthology, a collection of creative work by York Quakers and their supporters. Janet has recently completed her first novel The Peacemaker.