At Twenty-eight by Bron Bateman

I was pregnant for the seventh time,

fat as a seal, listing south,

anaemic, with a pale, dry mouth

and an endless thirst for ice blocks.

I remember standing in the shower, legs outspread,

so tired sometimes that I would slide

carefully, pendulously, down the wet, tiled wall

and let the water beat on my head like a drum.

Social Services allocated me a cleaner,

and I would get up early before she came, and make the beds,

feed breakfast to the younger children, settle the kitchen to rights,

and send the older ones to school. My belly,

the veins in my legs and vulva, hung

like ripe bunches of grapes,

pounding with all that extra blood, as I smoothed

the sleek brown head of that child, or this,

gathering them to myself;

and waiting.

Bron Bateman is a poet and academic. She has had her work published in anthologies, journals and online in Australia, the UK and the US. Her first collection, 'people from bones', was published in 2002 and her second collection, 'Of Memory and Furniture', is forthcoming in 2020 with Fremantle Press. She has won both the Bobbie Cullen Memorial Prize for Creative Writing, in 2004 and Columbia University's Winter Prize for Poetry in 2017. She lives with her wife and two youngest daughters in Western Australia.