Poetry Shelf Monday poem: Jane Arthur ‘Motherchild’

Motherchild

We see the bones through the skin.
In some lights, they’re like baby birds,
so delicate it scares us. In other lights,
they’re machines. Built to take over the world.

We see the skin that thickens, thins,
thickens, thins all the way till the end.
We see the bones that train the muscles,
then relent, redundant. So many

bones to be broken, so much skin to be torn,
delicate hearts to be ruined 
by an accumulation of errors.
I was the child for most of my life. 

I never felt able to give that up, to stop 
writhing, in constant search 
of the manual for living. 
I’m not sure when I was at my most resilient

but it isn’t now, now you can’t
show me anything because it all
sucks my organs to the outside of me,
freezes skin, ruins heart.

Jane Arthur

Jane Arthur is a poet who lives in Pōneke, where she co-owns a small independent bookshop. Her first poetry collection, Craven (VUP, 2019), won the Jessie Mackay Prize for Best First Book of poetry in 2020.

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