by Jordie Albiston

View an image of the poet

The first line of ‘Uterus’ sets the tone for a poem of frank cynicism: ‘I have no point to make’. There is a resignation to the words, as the narrator describes the pain of pregnancy and weariness of motherhood, the entrapment behind ‘the delphic door’. Another line, ‘These are my off- / spring’, from the penultimate stanza, is matter-of-fact and almost loveless. ‘This is the time / to conceive and deliver’. Giving birth is presented as a duty, a thing expected of a woman, to be endured.

But there is also a natural flow to the poem as each line transitions seamlessly to the next, achieved through the absence of commas and full stops. We are gently carried by soft alliteration: ‘This sanctum is a store- / house of unspoken words’. The uterus is conveyed as a profoundly sacred space, a ‘church’. We are offered a complex equilibrium, comprising both the trials of maternity and a reverence of the female body, a tension that ultimately gives rise to ‘a chorus of loves and fears’.

Words by Sophia Martin-Pavlou

‘Which artist,’ painter Paul Klee once asked, ‘would not wish to dwell at the central organ of all motion?’ The desire to return to the mother’s womb is a psychosexual cliché; Klee’s rhetorical question treats it as common sense. What better abode to nourish the solipsistic artist-genius than this all-enveloping vessel? The quotation opens Albiston’s poem, positioning the uterus as a warm sanctuary. It is a ‘church’ that is not only a giver of life and security, but also a wellspring for creativity.

The first three stanzas depict the womb as a series of simple, smooth-edged shapes: a ‘curve’, a ‘pear-shaped part’. One can imagine sketched pencil strokes dancing on paper, bending to outline the structures described. The text is devoid of punctuation, but gaps are inserted between certain words: ‘I have no point   to make / my womb is round   my / logic circuitous   I ache / in nervous arcs …’ These spaces form knowing connections, the pointless circuit being just one, and instil in Albiston’s words an ebbing momentum.

Words by John Wadsworth

More to discover

Read the poem on Google Books (page 19). Read an interview with the poet by Kate Middleton on the Walleah Press website.

Question of the day

Is parenthood a creative process? Share your thoughts on Facebook, Patreon, or Twitter.

Yes, and not just in the obvious making-babies way, but in all sorts of subtler ways in which you and the child alter each other unexpectedly. Everything I’ve written in the past thirteen years is inspired by my kids.

– Emma Donoghue, author (The Wonder, Room) (via The Brief →)

Yes. Though a child is not an artwork, we are all shaped in some respect by the creativity of our parents.

– Hugh Maloney, Silent Frame Sub-Editor (via Patreon →)

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