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 is the author of two volumes of poetry: ‘Sudden rainfall’ (Perdika Press, 2014), a PBS Pamphlet Choice, and ‘Unable Mother’ (V.Press, 2018). Her poetry and critical writing features in the Guardian, The Huffington Post, The Brooklyn Review, Poetry London, Poetry Scotland, and The London Magazine, among many others. She is creator and editor of acclaimed poetry anthology ‘Eighty-Four’ (Verve Poetry, 2019) in aid of the leading suicide prevention charity CALM. It was shortlisted for the Saboteur Awards, Best Anthology, 2019, and was a Poetry Wales Book of the Year, 2019. Helen is a visiting lecturer in Creative Writing at Loughborough University, and works as a writing tutor for organisations including The Poetry School, N.A.W.E and Writing West Midlands. Her new pamphlet will be published by Verve Poetry Press in autumn 2020.