Nina Parmenter, ‘A Spell for Motherhood’

Take a mountain. Scale the pink-arsed flanks of it,
limb over limb. Find Poseidon. Extract from him a wave
and a horse’s hoof. Pluck a tree; kill the grip of it
by showing it your thoughts. Make your peace with the grave.
Eat apples, all of them. Taste in them the sin
of being a woman. Let that smack you in the gut,
you deserve it. Straddle the equator. Suck up its spin,
take it with you; feel your body snapping shut.
Learn to count each breath as an act of sedition.
Pull the lungs from a sleeping leopard. Be a speck.
Be a planet. Be a long-dead apparition.
Stuff a storm into your patch pocket, huge and wet,
but tell no one. Invent two new ways of shucking
a heart from a blown glass moon. Find a man. Fuck him.


Nina Parmenter writes: “This poem (first published by Atrium Poetry) was written in an online workshop in response to the prompt “a spell”. I wanted my spell to be impossible, to reflect the ineffability of motherhood, but I also wanted to talk about how the act of giving birth puts us right on the threshold of life and death. I felt that some kind of form was right for a spell, but needed the poem to feel raw rather than singy-songy, so I chose this unmetered sonnet form.
The last line was really a happy accident; I wrote the penultimate line (which originally ended with sucking, not shucking!) and then thought, “What rhymes with sucking?… OH.”  

Nina Parmenter‘s first collection “Split, Twist Apocalypse” is published by Indigo Dreams. Her work has appeared in Snakeskin, Light, Allegro, Raceme, Honest Ulsterman, The Lyric and Potcake Chapbooks ‘Houses and Homes Forever’. Her home, work and family are in Wiltshire.

Photo: “Magic Spell: Forward!” by RoguePriest is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

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