John Donne Dreams his Still-Born Son Lives, By Rosie Jackson

Third Prize in our Open Competition this year was awarded to Rosie Jackson (Twitter: @_rosiejackson)

John Donne Dreams his Still-Born Son Lives

You arrive in a season of mallow and love-in-a-mist,
swim between worlds like a swordfish, eat little,
whittle wood into birds.

Like all kids, you break things – teeth, bones,
your mother’s heart. You like swimming in icy water,
retrieving almost-dead things under stones.

You talk to angels, know the exact hierarchy of cherubim
and seraphim, the pecking order from St. Michael down.
At night, I fancy your footsteps sound on bare boards

where you tread back and forth, reciting my poems.
I am a little world made cunningly Of Elements, and
an Angelike spright… You’re my twelfth and last child –

I hesitate to say my favourite – but it’s your face,
grown into manhood, riddled with sorrow, that I see
praying in the garden of Gethsemane. I like to think

you’ll intercede for me. When I hear your voice, I hear
my own warm vowels, the same firm passion, faithful
consonants. It’s strange how things are handed down,

like seeing yourself poured out again in a pitcher
of next year’s water. But you move quickly, while I
stumble after you, not yet one of the immortals.

Many times in dreams I lose sight of you. You have my
slightly hooked nose, slender frame, long-fingered hands.
You’d make a good thief. As you did when you stole

your mother from me, your tiny face so unguarded,
raw, forlorn, she had no choice but to come with you.
If I could but love our three-person’d God with one shred

of the hunger I have for you and your mother. See how
I fall to my knees each morning, yellow with prayer
as the ivory gates close behind you once more.

1 Comment

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One response to “John Donne Dreams his Still-Born Son Lives, By Rosie Jackson

  1. I can see why Rosie Jackson’s poem was picked as one of the winners: deeply emotional, richly imaginative and full of telling details!

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