Pia Goddard


(If the baby is crying, feed the mother)

The garden was a witch’s kitchen
of wild blue borage, heartsease,
hyssop and sage, dotted with
chamomile and comfrey,
fennel for a colicky baby
raging at a dry breast
while grandma,
calm among
the chaos,
plucked milk thistle,
made it into tea,
succoured me 


Pia Goddard is a London-based poet, performing her work with two local poetry groups, the rye poets and Southwark Stanza. She trained as a sculptor and has worked as a fine art photographer and poet for the last twenty years. Find her online at www.southlondonwomenartists.co.uk

© 2017


Orna Donath

“My children cause me the most exquisite suffering of which I have any experience. It is the suffering of ambivalence: the murderous alternation between bitter resentment and raw-edged nerves, and blissful gratification and tenderness” (p.344).

A quote of a research participant from Regretting Motherhood: a Sociopolitical Analysis by Orna Donath, 2015, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society

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.”