When you were a limpet

One thing we do over and over is celebrate birthdays. The last day of NaPoWriMo coincides with the birthday of child No. 4.

Photo ©Daniel Vorndran / DXR


Memories crowd,

no jostling,

quiet and orderly, like your birth.

You were past term,

I strolled over the Seine to the maternity hospital,

last check up before the holiday,

hung over the parapet, watched the reflections of Notre Dame

And the swallows swooping.

It’s time, they said, though she hangs on like a limpet.

There’s nothing left to drink,

the sea she swam in is dry.

It was a day like today,

brisk cloud and brief sun,

but the swallows were already calling.

I called home, said I was staying, it was time.

It was the last days of the maternity hospital too,

luxury hotel now,

and its wide corridors and roof garden were just for us.

Chatting, placid, no hurry,

waiting for you to appear,

waiting for you to be prised from your rock.

I remember no pain,

just the calm voice of the midwife

and the swallows screeching

and the sun beaming in fits and starts.

Birthdays come round,

you grow,

still placid and determined.

Still the temperament of a limpet on a rock.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

34 thoughts on “When you were a limpet”

    1. Thank you! The fourth was the only one that was induced where the epidural worked properly. It didn’t feel like giving birth at all! And the place was so quiet. Half of the wards closed, ready to turn the place into a hotel. Shame.

      1. No…never…it is the tone of the poem…and your way of presnting it…so hats off Jane…it was the best I read of yours after last day haibun…

  1. My Little One always gets a birthday poem, being born in April. The oldest was born in May and even though it’s near the end of the month, she rarely gets a birthday poem because I’m still coming down from thirty poems in thirty days. She has been the subject of many of those poems, but it’s not usually about her birthday.

  2. I read and enjoyed this Jane and thought of my No 4, an artist of some merit and I could never say his temperament was anything but effervescent and extrovert…..though like all artists he does fall into his dark moments….

    1. It goes by, they change, and worst of all, they don’t remember them. Almost all the small child memories are swept away when life gets more exciting and complicated after school starts.

      1. My younger one is better at remembering than the older one. But they also remember different things (and differently if they remember the same ones…) I’m sure that’s true of all of us.

      2. I’ve had completely contradictory childhood stories told me about my granddad by my mother and her sister. I never knew him. He died a few months after I was born, and I just have their stories about him.

      3. I wonder why they are so different though. I’ll pick the one I prefer and stick to it. The past is finished, we dig out what we want.

      4. I think our brains are always rearranging things. Sometimes I can’t figure out if something I remember really happened or I dreamed it or someone told me about it or maybe I read it somewhere.

      5. That’s exactly right! Some of my most enduring memories are pure imagination. Like crossing the Atlantic on a liner with my parents when I was a tiny baby. I can see the picture as clear as when I started having this memory when I was small. Except it never happened…

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