POEMS by Louella Sullivan


You are conceived in the sparse dark
Before the rising dawn on Easter Sunday
He says: I’d better get a…
I say: No and stay him, my hand on his back
Gripping him gently between my thighs.

After, I lie still, my hips tilted upward in prayer
Willing you across the threshold
You are eager to be born
I am impatient to meet you.


newly pregnant

like a waning buttered moon
between my heart and my belly
there is no more space
for the world that shouts:
Look! Look at me! See what I can do!
these are under-water words
and I am turning inward


Morning Sickness

Over my shoulder
a tide of black ink rises
my fingertips bleed raw
against the grit of sand
as it sucks me furiously back to sea.

Like how my mother taught me to fold socks
one rolled tight within the other
I am twisted back into myself



In the summer night
– the blackout so fierce I don’t know
where my fingertips end –
my waters break with the storm.

On the chill hospital floor
I pace out each step she will walk
and (rocking) (howling) let go

When she forges her way out
in blood and fire
I pass onto her
what remains of me

then fall
like a goddess flung to earth
achingly mortal.

POEM: Trekking


The sugar in the bottom of the cup
has hardened into brown crystals
the scum of foam at the top has dried too,
trapping an ant intoxicated
by the mark of your lips.
It never was, yet I have seen it.

I excavate words long since decayed
add them to to the lines of prayer flags
shredded by the wind.
The flags hang from temples that mark the path
to the mountain’s summit.
I place stones on cairns and count my steps.
This pilgrimage will not bring back your life
nor undo the past,
will not re-fashion this moment to include
you, me, in the same smoky room
sharing dahl from a wooden dish
butter floating on the surface of our tea.

I remember how they cut me open at midnight
how I woke as they tore my belly apart
but could not move, screaming in the silence.
The aspirator thudding, their voices casual
a thumb lifted my eyelid, then I slept again.

You will not share these memories.
I have nothing that was yours,
no dress, no teddy bear, no favourite book,
no box in the cupboard holding treasure
nothing to give my unborn grandchild,
no way to say “this was your mother’s, now it’s yours”.