I feel that this poem will be one that so many of us will identify with. Nothing can prepare you for the realities of childbirth and none of us can predict its effects upon us. The trauma is real and has lasting consequences. This poem leaves many questions unanswered and throughout maintains a sense of going under, of drowning, of trying to keep your own head above water. – Jane Burn, guest editor
Birth Trauma (PTSD)
The lump of rose quartz is deadly,
squatting on the mantle watching
everything. It swallows the light
from the lounge, unearthing the ring
where the birthing pool stood.
I kneel daily to scrub the stain
with warm water and vinegar,
the crystal towering above
my bowed head, crowing
triumphantly over pickled hands.
It jeers at me each morning
as I tiptoe past, seeking refuge
in the kitchen with the radio
and the silver coffee pot, the volume
turned right up to mask the cackling.
(Forthcoming in the Emma Press Anthology of Illness Poems, 2020)
Rachel Bower is a Leverhulme Fellow at the University of Leeds. She is the author of Moon Milk (Valley Press) and Epistolarity and World Literature (Palgrave Macmillan). She edited the Verse Matters anthology with Helen Mort (Valley Press). Her poems and stories have been published widely, including in The London Magazine, Magma, Stand and New Welsh Reader. Her work has been shortlisted for the London Magazine Poetry Prize and the White Review Short Story Prize, and she was recently longlisted for the Royal Society of Literature’s V.S. Pritchett Short Story Award 2019.