That zero year is the publication of work Tiggy and I have collaborated on over the past year. It deals with all things parenting and kids, hits raw nerves in places and I’m stoked to be placing it out there for readers to enjoy. I love what these three brilliant poets have to say and feel truly blessed to have their words donning the back cover:
From the sudden weight of Thirteen weeks to the biting complaints of Fishing, That zero year screams with joy. These poems form a dialogue of love and loss; unpicking stitches in the family weave to welcome us to the bedside table of these most private moments. Here, we witness breath-taking devastation – the missing knee in the chest, the remembered rub of a belly – and wide-eyed wonder – a smile wriggled through to the toes. That zero year is an unflinching celebration of breath and blood. Phillips and Johnson know what it is to be alive and we are richer for it.
This collection is like an unsuspecting orientation manual, uniting what appears to be uncomplicated materials, recognisable motifs, familiar situations and mapped out structures but, in all reality, holds the weight of ten sinking cities and leads me back to that Talking Heads lyric, ‘how did I get here?’
As reflections on domestic life and the intimacy of family, these are fine poems. But as portraits of loss, love, and grief, and of what happens in the months and years that follow tragedy, they are vivid, unflinching, and beautiful.
The home midwife
She pulls up in a hatchback,
carries her leather case swollen
with years in and out of waters
a little vial of rose oil
and herbs transferred through bellyskin
to help the body yawn.
She walks down a hallway
to brew a pot of raspberry leaf,
fennel, singing nettle
and chats between the heavy breaths,
makes a joke about stir frying the placenta
but doesn’t laugh.
No phone code or knife sharpening
for spine on spine, head up bottom down
or umbilical wrapped around the neck
she has whispering hands;
chinese point massage to coach
an aquatic half somersault
and unfurl the ribbon.
She reads faces too
guides a father’s hands
to be in on the magic of catching skin
slippery as water
it’s a black art
to let a baby happen
in your living room.