Two poems by Rachel Bower

© Jan Bella




after Matthew Siegel


The sea is not as white
as I expected. A lifeguard
tapes gauze on my baby’s hand,
secures the pad. It’s okay,
it’ll be over soon.

The waves splash to my
belly. My breasts leak,
a turquoise vein swells.

A woman once stood to her chest
as the tide crept in, foot planted
where she dropped the bright ring.

A needle
in a haystack. Saline slips
down the tube, stinging cold.
I hold you high as we wade out.





10 weeks old


As he grows
stronger, rounder, smoother,
I begin to rattle inside my skin,
across the stomach,
a crinkled blouse
draped over dough.

These breasts, still milk-full
in time will shrink, crease,
then the eyes will cloud,
the skin crack
near the mouth
and I will peel it right back

and      slither out
bright new      clean.

Then I will reel in shock.
That cast skin was the tale
of our becoming.
Panicking, I will hunt down
the scraps,
gather strips

scrunch them tightly at the waist
and twist
to the flare
of bronze chiffon,
sashay our story
through the town.


Rachel Bower

About Rachel Bower

Rachel Bower is a poet and Leverhulme Research Fellow at the University of Leeds. She is the author of 'Moon Milk' (Valley Press, 2018) and 'Epistolarity and World Literature, 1980-2010' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). Rachel is the editor of 'Verse Matters' (with Helen Mort, Valley Press, 2017), and her poems have featured in Stand, New Welsh Review, The Interpreter’s House, Frontier, Popshot Magazine and many other places. She has had work shortlisted for The London Magazine Poetry Prize and her poems have won several other prizes. You can find her on Twitter @rachelebower and her website is at (Author image credit: Jan Bella)