book is a personal account of what it is like to have a
child after years of an independent, fulfilling and varied
life. But it is no usual account. The book is written as a
duet, a dance between the voices of mother and baby. The
reader is engaged in a complex and emotional dialogue where
the fears of the mother and the reassuring wisdom of the
child are expressed. This relationship begins when the child
is conceived and continues through birth until the child
takes his first symbolic steps away from the mother.
This honest, forthright account of pregnancy and motherhood
pulls no punches about self doubt, fear, pain, the trauma of
a difficult birth and a child’s unrelenting demands. It is
also about the intensity of emotion, the deep fulfilment and
the amazement of one woman as the whirlwind of alternating
fear and joy settles down to become a growing and enriching
Excerpt (before the birth):
I am warmth and awareness and rosy night springing from a
centre softly throbbing. Sparked by your loving con-
junction at a time most right I am entered into flesh,
flowing with and through you, the woman I have chosen.
Through me, nourishing runs the river of your body, your
food, your love, your joy, your fear – each breath of life
and mould me.
I am your secret expression, your private creation, your
fearful concern. I am beholden to you. I am at your mercy.
Child of my heart, beneath my heart, I have longed for
your coming. In my dreams I have sung to you, caressed
you, kissing your down-soft head. Together we have
danced on many a shore, sniffing the salt air, sharing
the arched splendour of the skies. And on nights when my
soul has ached you have slaked your thirst from my
abundant breasts. Laughing into my eyes, your face
flaring into the night has eluded me.
You are not just my child/our child, a simple sum of
this woman/this man; your birth may have shaken the
stars long before ours. New born to us you are an old
soul rich with wisdom garnered from lands and ages
unknown to me, and I am afraid. Afraid of you?
To be afraid of me, is to be afraid of yourself, of what
you set in motion and perpetuate. It is to be afraid of
the crazy whirling dance of creation.
I am the essence of loving kindness, born into flesh
that suffer and sings, to make again a new living. And
because the time and place are new to me, and you my
parents, it will be the journey of a pilgrim, an
untrodden path stretching me, forging a stronger being.
And we will set out together.
Washed by the flickering shadows of a small oak tree my
limbs sprawl, thankful to have my weight, your weight
off my feet. Drum taut my belly swells gleaming like a
burnished helmet shell. I imagine for the umpteenth
time, you, curled up inside, a small, soft, pleated
grub, shielding your belly.
In picture and in film I have seen the wonder of this
burgeoning life, this becoming human – and still I am
Do you really look like that – a small soft coil with
wallaby paws curled and pleading? Did I look like that?
The poet boasts of the temerity of the imagination,
ego-spanning, chasm-leaping. Mine refuses to believe
what grows within me, this rich swelling, you –
mushrooming upward and outward at your own time. Quietly
insistent. To see the world in a grain of sand? Oh to
see you, small sprouting grain, in your world, in me.
Do not scorn your imagination though it seem pedestrian,
lacking in Promethean leaps or Blake-like fire. Even
though puny it sets you apart from all other living
Your imagination is more potent than you dare imagine
for what is pictured in the mind with longing and
conviction, soon lives and breathes. We loved and
laughed and danced together in your mind and we will
love and laugh and dance together in your world.
Mind called me forth and I was waiting, for we three are
threads in a tapestry, weaving together an image of
flaring colours that will touch many lives before we
I can see you wonder, in your so tactful way, if you
truly speak to me in reality, or if I exist solely in
your imagination. And I say to you, yes you do speak to
me in reality – and yes it is all in your imagination.
Excerpt (after the
My world is my son. How meticulously I clean his
overflowing bottom, dab meths on a shrivelling cord,
coax uncaring limbs into miniscule singlets. An origami
novice, I fold the first nappy, clumsily covering his
scrawny buttocks, his balls bright as red plums, the
swollen penis. So rich and ripe, the genitals of the
newborn, plumped out by my hormones remind me that this
purity is sexual to its core.
I feel I am handling something infinitely rare and
horribly breakable, although common sense tells me
babies must be tougher than they look. Like an initiate
tending the master I am humble, solicitous to the point
of absurdity, willing him to have faith in me, to like
me, love me. Exposed, my soul quivers before his
unblinking milky gaze.
Dear little angel Gabriel, how you leapt to life when we
brought you home. Your body softened and stretched,
limbering for living. Your eyes sprang wide open as you
drank in the warmth, the light that poured around you,
the green whispering masses of the trees.
Mother, oh mother, the light, the light, it wraps me
around, rolling me in its waves, whispering, quickening,
shining all around and through me.
When I lean backwards in your arms and look above the
green to the great vaulted blue it cuts with its dazzle
– slamming shut my eyes. But I find I can slit them so
just enough light bounces in.
It seems my other world returning, flooding me with love
There are other lights – lights in the darkness, lights
that dispel the darkness, softer, less thrilling, but
still I am drawn to them.
I feel safe in the light as I feel safe in you my
mother, cuddled soft around, burrowing in, I suck and
suck, drawing your warmth and love deep inside me. You
are my world, oh my mother.
'Out of this Whirlwind' is available from Rose.