I helped my mother pick

ripe gooseberries

loaded with their bitter seeds.

She straightened up

rested her hand on her vast belly –

my sun was blotted out.


I saw my mother rushed to hospital

in a screaming ambulance.

Days later she came home

with a red-faced creature

whose siren-shriek

made my milk teeth curl.


I watch my mother wash

mountains of stinking nappies.

So I take the consolation doll

and, with my seaside spade,

bury it under the gooseberry bush –

a trial run for tonight.






Clare Marsh recently completed an Intermediate Poetry course at UEA/WCN. She won the Sentinel Annual Short Story competition (2013). Her poem 93442- the Numbers of War  won a WW1 competition and was shortlisted for the Wells Literary Festival (2014).