Two poems by Jenny Pagdin


    Noah and the catkins


I was sickening for psychosis, more than sickening
and you were less than two, just starting to talk
and I made a game for you as we walked the woodland path,
putting all the catkins into houses under leaves.
You tottered about, repeating ’pillar, home.
Sometimes that is all any of us need, a place to be our home.
You took all of your babies and laid them to sleep.
I used to invent innocent games for you
and when I was ill and I knew I wasn’t thinking straight
I begged my mother to hold you, to keep you safe,
like her arms were my arms loving you.
I knew I shouldn’t hold you.
I knew.


    Water infection


I was still small, clutching two hot-water bottles
like balloons, pain radiating into my shoulders
in purple spokes and nervy polygons.
They called it a water infection; I thought of the sea.
Plucked sounds tremored deep in the piano
that no one had touched.
I couldn’t understand how the back of my neck hurt.
You will when you grow up, said my mother,
mumbling something about pleasure I couldn’t understand.


Jenny Pagdin

About Jenny Pagdin

Jenny Pagdin’s pamphlet Caldbeck, which tells the story of her postnatal psychosis, was published by Eyewear in 2017, shortlisted for the Mslexia pamphlet competition and listed by the Poetry Book Society. She was longlisted for the Rebecca Swift Foundation prize in 2018 and placed second in the Café Writers competition 2021. Her work is featured or forthcoming in New Welsh Review, Smoke, Magma, Ambit, The Stand, Finished Creatures, Ink, Sweat & Tears and an Emma Press anthology.