Sign In using your Campus Account

‘Portrait of my unborn children’

Number one enjoys
lemongrass soup as she sails
the Yangtze alone.

Number two saves lives
on the streets of this city
with his soft, warm mouth.

Number three never
saw the bike turning right on
the day we found bees.

Number four was left
behind and always wondered
who she belonged to.

Number five found love
in the arms of a woman
who collects snow globes.

Number six performs
conjuring tricks to women
on the streets of Rome

Number seven asks
why stars are not collected
like shells on a beach.

Number eight knows his
life will end on a day when
salmon spawn upstream.

Number nine listens
to the low hum of aircraft
as the tulips flame.

Number ten looks up
to see a woman writing
and finds her wanting.


Jeanette Burton has an MA in Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University and teaches creative writing at a college in Nottingham.

“This poem was inspired by the fifth assignment on Kathryn Simmonds’ Secrets and Lies course, where we were asked to explore imaginary people in our poetry. I read an extract from Carrie Etter’s Imagined Sons and was fascinated by the way her writing revealed ‘secrets’ about her son and about herself. I wanted to achieve something similar in my own poem and I also wanted to explore the links between motherhood and creativity – hence why my imagined children are all haiku-babies! The feedback I received really helped me to hone my ideas and to give more impact to the final haiku with its ambiguous message of the female writer found ‘wanting’.”

Add your Reply

Image Credits:

Vaikelis by Kambodza