A poem by Helen Calcutt



    Death in the form of a child


When you came alive, I leant in,
a red flower to your whisper.
What you said, was dark. Darkness,
from the bud of the spine, so I turned away.

I still remember the sound.
If I close my eyes, I see your mouth,
white, soft,
as an embryonic sack, opening and closing.

Nothing like the confusion
of water to make you think
something’s alive. Was that a hand, there,
in the swell of the screen

lifting or waving? A child or a man,
floating, drowning?
I leant in one more time, but had gone too far
to make sense of it.
Now I see, I expected it.


Helen Calcutt

About Helen Calcutt

Helen Calcutt is a poet, writer, and editor. Her poetry and criticism has been featured widely in publications including the Guardian, Poetry Scotland, The London Magazine, Southbank Poetry, and The Brooklyn Review, with award-winning essays in Wales Arts Review, Sabotage, and Arifa Akbar’s Boundless. Helen has written two books of poetry. Her pamphlet 'Sudden Rainfall' was published by Perdika Press in 2014 and was a PBS Choice. Her full-length collection, 'Unable Mother' - ‘both a violent and tender grapple with our cosy notions of motherhood’ - was published by V.Press in September 2018. Helen is creator and editor of ‘Eighty-Four’, a new poetry anthology on the subject of male suicide. She is a visiting lecturer in Creative Writing at Loughborough University.