‘Joy, Calm and a Blessing’: Happy and Late by Kate Garrett (FreeSpace 2)

16 Apr

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Joy, Calm and a Blessing

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Welcome to poet and writer Kate Garrett’s second FreeSpace this time consisting of two poems: 

‘The sequence ‘Joy, Calm and a Blessing’ consists of four poems exploring the experiences of four generations of women concerning pregnancy / maternity, bodily autonomy and choice (or lack thereof).

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Happy (1961)

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She almost had a son –
they don’t talk about him anymore.
They have two baby girls now,
blessings, gifts, two years apart.
They fill her time with feeds
and changes, tears and giggles;
they need her every moment,
as she twirls back and forth between
the walls of her still-sparkling house.
The diapers, soft and ironed, stacked
neatly – one day for laundry; rows
of fresh bottles boiled clean –
one day for sterilising.
Sterilising, not a surface left sticky
or muddy, no cause for alarm, no harm
will come to anyone within this frame.
She bakes, she sews the clothes, her husband
arrives home to a kiss and his supper.
At night she makes sure the hollow
space in her throat doesn’t fill with tears.
Each new morning she rises, fresh,
with the sun. She is happy.
Of course she is happy.
What else on earth could she be?

*

Late (1979)

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My dad, he doesn’t cry,
but he did when he heard
the news; sat at the kitchen
table, put his head
in his hands, and cried.

I said, through my own tears,
don’t worry, Daddy, I won’t be keeping it,
everything will be fine.
He couldn’t look at me.

Mom said maybe I’d like
to have a baby after all? She
said she had four, wouldn’t trade
us for anything. But then,
she was married, she was twenty five,
a housewife, it was different.
Her tongue burned:
Why was I so stupid
to sleep with a boy who’s still
in school? But it doesn’t matter;
why not keep the baby?

I’m still not sure why anyone
would think having one of these is a good idea.
It just screams –
dirty bottles, diapers piling up.
I have work in the morning. Mom
has to take it from me at 2am
because I want to shake it until it shuts up.

I don’t even want it.
It’s a mistake I can’t erase.
He forgot to bring a rubber. Just this once,
we thought. Nothing would happen
just the once, but it did.

And his mother said, give the baby
to us, we’ll take care of it. And my mother
said, we’ll keep it, don’t come round here
or I’ll deck you, and my father cried at the table,
and I never wanted it.

*

 

You can find out more about Kate and her work here:

http://www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk/

https://twitter.com/kate_garrett

 

*If you missed Kate’s first poem in this series you can find it here.

 

Kate will be back with the final poem in her exploration of women’s experiences of autonomy and pregnancy on Wednesday 21st May.

There will be an ArtiPeeps Update post tomorrow, full of good news.

 If you’d like to get involved with any of our opportunities or collaborations do get in touch via the contact form on the ‘What’s On’ Page or via @ArtiPeeps

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