This poem is called 'Beheaded', and is about a beheading, but is also my way of talking about the experience of giving birth.



I hear perfectly: the thud
onto linen, the strange gasp
like the cry of a premature baby,
just once and then silence.

And I see perfectly:
how my lashes scratch the light,
a hair glittering in shadow,
the winded hollow

where my lips rest.
I still have all my words.
I move my mouth,
like someone begging for water.

Fingers grab my hair
and I soar high above my sad
old body, slumped and tiny.
Tears of pity for it fill my eyes.

They are tending it,
the blank women in blue.
They are washing it,
as if they loved it.

Look, the people are cheering me,
look, they are glad to see me,
now that I’ve been removed
without a single word of protest.

from Farewell My Lovely (Bloodaxe Books, 2009), © Polly Clark 2008, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

The free tracks you can enjoy in the Poetry Archive are a selection of a poet’s work. Our catalogue store includes many more recordings which you can download to your device.