Stephen Dunn

I love this line… ‘there is no sweetness that doesn’t leave a stain’. That is my heart as  mother, the biggest sweetness, the biggest stain.

Just when it has seemed I couldn’t bear
one more friend
waking with a tumor, one more maniac

with a perfect reason, often a sweetness
has come
and changed nothing in the world

except the way I stumbled through it,
for a while lost
in the ignorance of loving

someone or something, the world shrunk
to mouth-size,
hand-size, and never seeming small.

I acknowledge there is no sweetness
that doesn’t leave a stain,
no sweetness that’s ever sufficiently sweet ….

Tonight a friend called to say his lover
was killed in a car
he was driving. His voice was low

and guttural, he repeated what he needed
to repeat, and I repeated
the one or two words we have for such grief

until we were speaking only in tones.
Often a sweetness comes
as if on loan, stays just long enough

to make sense of what it means to be alive,
then returns to its dark
source. As for me, I don’t care

where it’s been, or what bitter road
it’s traveled
to come so far, to taste so good.

From “Sweetness” from New and Selected Poems 1974-1994


Alex McConnell

Pregnancy and birth for me
as a man was the beginning
of my humanity.
It brought a conscious connection to
love and our evolving place
in this universe.
The greatest thing in life
is to grow our
compassion and connection,
valuing those around us
and sharing our journeys
whether they cross paths for moments
or a lifetime.
Between birth and death,
death and birth
we grow.

Found in a creative piece at the Australian College of Midwives Conference 2017, Calling all midwives: the truth is out there.

Degna Stone

This poem, Ruby, Aged 4 1/2, is what I would write about my own daughter, aged nearly 3, if I were able to.

Ruby, Aged 4 1/2

She’s a roulette wheel loaded against you
A sure-fire bet when you don’t have the stake
A gun in the hands of a man with a grudge
Like a smudge of silverleaf on a blacksmith’s neck

She’s a giggle that turns into a manic episode
An intermittent broadband connection
A delivery between nine in the morning and six at night
Like a bus driver who waits when he sees you running

She’s a garden wall with loose brickwork
A ninety minute wait for a cab on your birthday
A higher than expected energy bill
Like a footballer with a doctorate in theology

She’s an argument with your boyfriend’s brother
A cobra squatting in a meerkat’s den
A hooded teen walking behind you at night
Like a coin without a date stamp

She’s a bit of a laugh that ends up in court
A train that blasts past at your station
A flag at fullmast when the queen is dead
Like the difference between a common puffball
and a death cap. Like being alive.

By Degna Stone, in Writing Motherhood:a creative anthology, Carolyn Jess-Cooke (Ed), Seren, 2017


An Instagram post by @less_stuff_more_meaning that stayed with me.

‘ “The world will be saved by the Western woman”.
– Dalai Lama, 2009
Why? Because we lead with out hearts. Why are we so plagued by self doubts and anxieties? Because we give a sh*t. This is what the world needs. Your hugs, your infectious laughter, your listening ear, your concern for others. To all the Mum’s raising a future generation of gentle souls, you’re amazing.’

Helen Garner

Helen Garner brings her thoughtful and considered insights to her coverage of Akon Guode’s trial for driving her children into a lake. Helen is able to show how even though motherhood means everything to Akon, it such a herculean task that sometimes good mothers do bad things. The enormity and impact on women of the task of that ‘ancient duty’ of motherhood as Garner describe it is in my opinion very much understated and underrated.

The following are excerpts from Garner’s piece, Why She Broke, which you can read here, which I keep thinking about.

‘Could it be that this woman, widowed, passed from hand to hand and abandoned, overwhelmed by her own fertility, estranged from her community and up to her neck in debt, was prepared to risk bleeding to death on a hospital gurney rather than consent to the surgical removal of the sole symbol of her worth, the site of her only dignity and power: her womb?’

‘I wanted to know if she shared my anxiety. I said, “She did a terrible, terrible thing. But she was very badly treated. She was betrayed. She was —”

The girl flushed and leaned forward. She put out both hands to me, palms up, and whispered, “But she was – a mother.”

I had no reply.

I was troubled, and I still am, by the finality of the word “mother”, this great thundering archetype with the power to stop the intellect in its tracks.

“The herculean task of being a mother,” said Marcus Dempsey in his final submission, “has now fallen to Akoi.”

In the shadow of this ancient duty, so implacable and profound, can mercy hold up its head?’

And a quote from Guode’s counsel was Marcus Dempsey:

“While men kill to control or punish their children or partner, women kill children because they cannot cope with the extreme difficulties that they encounter in trying to care for their children.”


Be crumbled.
So wild flowers will come up where you are.
You have been stony for too many years.
Try something different.

At first I thought I would only need to surrender during labour. But the more my children grow, the more I realise that was only the start. In this new life, there are so many ways I need to learn to surrender, whether it is the constancy of being available to your children, or to the wee and poo of toilet training.

If motherhood has brought a sense of ruin to the order of my life and the person I thought I might be, there is beauty to be found in the crumbling. A new space is opened for growth and transformation. I feel the wildflowers pushing up their delicate heads.


“…It suddenly hit me, I am a mother. I will never be a maiden again. And in that moment I felt sad. Not because I am a mother, but because I felt I never got to say goodbye to that maiden. When my body was firm, my breasts were perky… I still had no love, respect or appreciation for her. I wanted to go back in time and hug her and tell her she was so loved. So I sent her some love and in a sense mourned her. After 11 months of motherhood my breasts are soft and definitely not perky, my belly plump and I have cellulite everywhere. All of it really, it’s like wearing a badge of honour. What a privilege to bring life into this world….I know we live in a society in which so much emphasis is held on obtaining and maintaining the maiden, but there is great beauty and joy in the mother.. and no doubt the crone!”

A post on Instagram by @the.cosmic.seedling. 30th June.