Aoife Lyall’s debut collection Mother, Nature explores the tragic and tender experiences of pregnancy and early motherhood, from antenatal complications and the devastating pain of miscarriage to the overwhelming joy of healthy delivery and healthy infancy. “Nothing prepares you for the loss of a child,” she writes in her prefatory note. “I turned to what I knew and found only more absence, more silence… I was disabused of the myth that my maternal will could safeguard my children; shown that the world could get through my deepest, most intimate defences.”

These poems are staggeringly tender. They are open, vulnerable and emotionally raw – and with this, they are poetically precise, exactly crafted gems. These are poems that want to give to the reader – my advice is to open this book and let them.” Niall Campbell

 

Sounds of that day
(after Norman MacCaig)

When a silence came,
it was your heart not beating.
When the door hushed, it was
the shuffle of a midwife leaving
us alone in our private grief. A muffled clanging
ten yards down the corridor was the news breaking and
unbreaking in the filing cabinet.
When the black biro rolled, it was me
falling and falling into myself.

When the door
clicked shut behind us, it was the end
of all the silences there were.

They left us
in the busiest corridor in the hospital.

I thought I was hurt in my body only
not knowing that
when your body sleeps
your mind feels all those kicks
in your round stomach before you wake
and the whole world goes numb.

 

Month’s Mind

We don’t know which ones we’re meant to bring
so we settle on the yellows for all the sorrys
there are. We pick the smallest bunch. Full
of buds, but no flowers, we lay them to rest
in the river. Our slow footsteps mourn the dying
shadows as we walk back to the house together

and alone. Once home, we bury our good shoes
at the bottom of the wardrobe. We pour the tea
and unwrap plates of sandwiches and cake.
In low voices we talk a little about the life
you never lived, and the house you never lived in
is overwhelmed by all the people who didn’t know to come.

 

 

Aoife Lyall (née Griffin) was born and raised in Dublin, and now lives in the Scottish Highlands with her family. She earned her BA in English Studies from Trinity College Dublin, before reading her MPhil in Medieval Literature at St John’s, University of Cambridge, and gaining her PGDE (English) at the University of Aberdeen. Shortlisted for the Hennessy New Writing Awards in 2016 and 2018, her work has appeared in many literary magazines. She has worked as a guest curator for the Scottish Poetry Library and as a guest editor for Butcher’s Dog. Mother, Nature is published by Bloodaxe Books.
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