Karen Connelly: The Children


I feel them falling
out of me,
the children,
like the passage
of stars in the sky,
the small fire denied
by the fierce rising
of the sun, the burning
of my own life.

They turn their small hands
up to me sadly, they don’t know
how to cry because
they haven’t been born,
but they regret even that, the pain
of the life I refuse them.
Nothing deters these ones:
not this great slaughterhouse
Earth, not the bad genetics,
not even sullen poverty.

It is a miracle,
how willing they are
to live.

I think it is because
they do not believe
they will have to die.
Or, being so small, so immense,
they cannot fathom death.
They regard the newspaper
without fear.
They curiously observe
the sobbing.
They come to the door
at dawn when the crow is passing
and in their veined, translucent palms
they hold the shadows of their own
bones and teeth.

They whisper, Please
then glare up at me,
pouting. Inconsolable.
When I turn away in disgust,
they laugh like foxes.
I recognize them.
Their voices pierce the core of me,
small arrows tipped with my own blood.

They accuse me of selfishness.
But you are almost in heaven, I howl,
what could I possibly give you?
Hurling words across the galaxy
that separates the living
from the not-yet-born, I explain
galaxy comes from gala,
in Greek it means milk.
There is, I insist, sustenance
in the starlight around you.

But they will not have it.
They do not
believe in new-age crap
or etymology, they want
flesh and breath.
They want me.
Little demons.
I know these children
are mine.
They demand the bloody earth.
Heaven does not interest them.


IMG_2730-2Karen Connelly is the author of ten books of award ­winning poetry, fiction, and non­fiction. Much of her work explores exile, dissident politics, human rights, and linguistic immersion, particularly in Burma, Thailand, and Greece. She also writes, in various genres, about transgenerational violence and trauma. Her most recent collection of poetry Come Cold River is a memoir about her troubled family, as well as a moving homage to many people in Canada who are invisibilized and silenced. 

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