Gestation

Through flesh, muscle, water your hand
nudges my hand - recoils. Ticking over
in salt-water, you heal. Then your arm
extends, meets my palm - you lean on me:
shy, listening. Alluvium of churned
fluid, settling
and I think of the fumy
stomach of our old pond, how the bottled
light of Koi rose, let me tickle their cilia
fins, the clitoral stem beneath. I wanted
them lumped in my cupped hands, to coax
down a shiny, bumping heart the way
I'd stroke a tablet down the dry throat
of a dog. They were lethal: eyes
and scales wild as head-lights; confusion
of fish-flesh, and sunless reflection.
I did ram a hand wrist-deep (into water
so bitter it numbed the bones), and they
subsided from sight, stunned and hurt.
Night drained the garden. I was called in
to the meaty steam of dinner, windows
solidifying against the pond until I couldn't
see it and forgot,
but in the pond's agitation
the fish soothed, lifted with a bovine,
unthinking grace, like difficult memories -
that tremendous, unstoppable blossoming.


from Broken Sleep (Bloodaxe, 2009), © Sally Read 2009, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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1Dismantling the Gun

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2Soldier

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3Castelsardo, Sardegna

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4The Death Bell

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5Instruction

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6Annunciation1

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7Late Sonata

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8The Glass Eye

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9Mastectomy

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10Undone

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11Confession

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12I Waited the Afternoon in Your Room

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13Journey

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14Mafia Flowers

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15Annunciation2

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16The Reflex

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17Remedy

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18As he died

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19Backlash

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20The Baptism

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21Knowledge

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22Kriah

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23The Crossing

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24Hyacinths

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25Hearing the Heart

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26Gestation

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27Through Glass

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28The Waiting

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29The Lullaby Hours

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30Broken Sleep

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31The Note

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32Toddler

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33Song

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34Weaning

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Books by Sally Read