Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Send-Off by Sian Hughes

This poem has won the prestigious UK Arvon Poetry Competition. It seems to be about the abortion and hospital-grave burial of a child identified with the extra chromosone that causes Down’s Syndrome.

I’ve read it a few times and I think it’s pretty good. And brave. A hard poem to write, still harder to live.

I might say more about it soon. A quick section from the poem

…My darling, sleep well in your bed.
Don’t come out on the landing where it’s cold

because, you see, I won’t come home
in my long dress and necklace

and blow you kisses up the stairs.
I won’t carry you back to bed

to rub your blue feet better
or fetch blankets from the box.

No, you don’t need a bottle, cuddle,
special rabbit, teddy, bit of cloth.

You don’t even need to close your eyes.
They were born that way, sealed shut…

3 comments:

apprentice said...

I heard her on Woman's Hour, you're right about the theme.

She remembers being on the stairs as a child herself, and the poem grew out of thinking how this child would never have that or any other experience. She and her partner were the only ones there with the priest for the interment of a number of children.

Rob Mackenzie said...

Apprentice
Thanks for the information. I must have a listen to the WH interview, as I think it's still avaialble online.

StephBennettOCVC said...

Sian Hughes is my current English lecturer, and she is amazing. She told us about this poem, and about how she felt around the time of releasing it to the world. She spoke of how horrible it was for her, and how some people just didn't understand. I though it was an amazing poem, and I think she is honestly so strong for doing what she did.