Lullaby for the Child I Will Never Have

Sometimes, in my dreams, I sing to you
of mice running up the clock, of four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
I love you too much for fledglings severed by magpies:

I found a chick once – feathers matted with cherry cough medicine,
blood vessels ground to pulp, the killer crowing from the ash tree’s birdcage veil.
Sometimes, in my dreams, I press my lips to your hair

and remember the coconut fibres of my newborn sister’s head;
wonder if yours will turn daisy-centre gold, as hers did the day she started school.
I love you too much for the playground’s incantations – its scrabbling hands,

its tights-tearing kicks, its blows to the face, its chewed gum, its spit –
and for the girls’ toilets’ Impulse reek; their collective ache to be nourished.
Sometimes, in my dreams, I lift you to my breast.

When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall. Where are the parents?
Are they there, standing outside the rhyme’s frame, jaws hanging in screams?
I love you too much for fires, floods, bone rattles of tectonic plates –

or worse, a mother that howls when someone switches off the light.
Don’t cry, little one. Hush. I promise I won’t bring you here, but
sometimes, in my dreams, I lay you down to sleep.
I love you too much for uranium skies. For earth scattered over mahogany.


Olivia Tuck‘s poetry has appeared in print and online journals including Under the RadarThe Interpreter’s HouseLighthouse and Algebra of Owls. Her pamphlet, Things Only Borderlines Know, is out now with Black Rabbit Press. Find her on Twitter: @livtuckwrites