Hear this poem spoken:

Expecting

TilesI walk in.

Expecting.

White walls, white coats,
sterile, needles, and seclusion.

But my time’s pale yellow, light green.

I expect rocking and repeating,
people stuttering like old vinyl.
But there’s just a bit of wailing
(and a great deal of waiting).

I expect to feel bored and broken,
but there’s dancing, gossiping, baking and singing.

A closed curtainExcept, not enough cigarette breaks,
which makes people pace and yell and bash on doors.

The nurses behind glass behind computers say

Not yet.

No saint nor smoker, so no fresh air for me
or access to the gym.

What I am is a mum though, a lactating mum though, a three-month old mum though

I express my breasts into plastic containers and place in the shared freezer –
laboured milk carefully labelled with the date and the time.

BubblesMy poetry bothers me.

I bring pen and paper into the blue tiled tub
that sits solidly. A centre.

I write myself elsewhere.

The food is ok.
And those that are allowed to leave return with pies and crisps.
We break chocolate together,
and drink cups of milo before bed.

The nurse brings a guitar and some fruitcake and my meds
We repeat as required. Repeat as required.

My sleep is artificial
And I wake up with a metallic taste in my mouth but I am bubbly, oh so bubbly, too bubbly.

My baby comes to visit me, around 3pm each day.

I hold her, agitated and un-maternal –
won’t let her latch. Can’t let her latch. Not yet.

I am allowed to leave to attend graduation,
swap sweat soaked trackies for silky gown and pink fur-lined hood,
a soul-shaken girl plaits my hair,
paints my face, kisses my cheek, wishes me luck.

The speaker on stage speeches on empathy.

Intercom on brick wallI have to go back,
so I push on the intercom
and say, damn, this is counterintuitive,
but could you let me in?

Line art drawing of a womanAnd when I’m allowed to leave (for good?)
I cry over spilt milk.

A sunny day. A hot car. A decent journey.
In seconds, my distracted freedom wastes those solitary hours, and those labelled containers,
roll and defrost,

ruined.

I
forgot
the
milk.