“Postpartum” from Arc’s 2019 Shortlist


I carry the baby to a clearing,
more marsh than meadow,
but now, in August, it’s thick
with wild peppermint.

For three months the sun has set
as the baby’s lungs open
against the coming night, as if his fury
alone can convince planets
to change course.

I am so tired. The day is all
dappled light and sword ferns.
A raven’s call loops the firs.
I set the baby on the warm earth,
mint flattened by the deer
who sleep here at night.

A maple seed
helicopters onto his belly.
Maybe I should I eat
the roots of something,
climb a tree
to gain perspective.

I turn, walk away from him,
and nothing, inside or out,
tells me to turn around.

Rusty Priske on Clea Young’s “Postpartum”

Clea Young’s poem melds the idyllic and horrific seamlessly. The poem is brave, exposing what is usually kept quiet, as women are told how they should feel and that they are wrong if they react differently. The truth is not always pretty, even when words and setting definitely are.

Clea Young lives and writes in Vancouver, BC. Her stories have been included in The Journey Prize Stories three times and her debut collection Teardown was published in 2016 with Freehand Books.

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