September 2022

Back to Issue 12

On carrying

By Simone King

for Meg


… the placenta is a kind of language—

perhaps our first one, our true mother tongue.


‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’, Ocean Vuong


Walking with my friend in the straw autumn

grasslands of her country rental, watching


a sunset working alchemy on the dam. New life

is in us – my second, with his coral sponges


ready to breathe, her first, a humble cell

cumulus that will soon fill so much of her.


She wants to know what it’s like. Crickets rattle

the cooling earth as I consider which story to share.


She is scared, so I won’t speak now of the looping fears

I carried with my first child, how I couldn’t trust


my body’s ability to nourish and birth.

I can’t use the word “magical” in the same week


I’ve had to ice my swollen vulva with frozen pineapple,

so I search for other words. We move close,


feet shifting slow in cured grass as the moon rises

on candlebarks, low and large and yolk yellow.


I tell her I always feel accompanied – the beat

of limbs within me in the waiting room,


where people stare at iPhones expressionless

over their face masks, and while walking


Coburg Lake, below where prisoners laboured

in the bluestone haunt, watching ibises


on Bin Chicken Island scramble the peak hour roar.

And I tell her that when I slump into the couch


exhausted each night, having found no

moments in my day to write, I remind myself


my body is creating with its blood utterances –

my placenta speaking the first language.