You are tugging at my skirt, aged two,
wanting a toy, a spoon from the drawer.
You are a few months old, just able
to hold your big old baby head up on that teensy neck.
It is your birthday. I am sweating and empty; you are
greasy-white with vernix, rising and falling with my breath.
I survived and you did too, your father is crying.
We are a little family, neat as a pin. Except
you are still waiting, Portia or Lucia or May
in parts. I carry a tiny piece I secrete
so secretly every month, you grow impatient when water
turns that warm and brilliant shade. It is alive
while you are not. Daughter-to-be, if you could form
your hands into little fists you would bang on my womb,
that carpet-lined waiting room, but your father has your fingers
and I have wrapped up your nails so you can’t rip me to ribbons.
We keep you apart, even as we come together, but I hear
him whisper your name, soft as blame in his sleep.
VICTORIA KENNEFICK’sWhite Whale (Southword Editions, 2015) won the Munster Literature Centre Chapbook Competition and the Saboteur Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet. Poems have appeared in Poetry, The Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Prelude and elsewhere.