Heidi North: The Child I Am Losing

Little Bud


The morning nurse adjusts my bed

smoothing and smothering as if I’m a child

bursts the metal skin sealing the milk carton

slides her finger along the sharp edge

folds the danger under with a practiced hand

pours milk lavish on the cornflakes

spoons in the soft plop of peaches

places beside me strong tea with too much sugar

and waits for me to eat as if I am the child here

and it’s not about the child I am losing


In this ward

The nurses touch

more than usual pat pat

their sanitised finger bones

reach into the dark corridor

grip my elbow against the assault

of carpet and light

hover behind the unlocked bathroom door

lunge into my disposable underwear

and check the pad. In the bruised morning

they keep the cheap red curtains drawn


It’s been a week

When the nurse calls to confirm

it was pregnancy tissue they extracted and secreted

folding the sheet over discrete

I’m buckled over in the car again

with the windscreen wipers swiping

tears because I signed you away to the fire –

I just didn’t know how to bring you home –

When she says, We sighted the pregnancy sac

regret sucks the last of my strength,

Your tiny budded body curled and lost and gone



This insanity never ends

beside the grave

of cigarette butts


and discarded coffee grinds

I hold you


bone to bone

the emptiness transforms


passion blurs our edges

and then


we are here again

in this violet twilight world


you open the frozen window

invite the sharp night in


Devon St Songs


1 Late summer

We ignored all the signs,

the crumpled house captured us


despite the 87-year-old carpet layer

wheezing down the crocked steps


the landlord in purple velvet after him, studded stilettos

stage-whispering, I worry he might have a heart attack


The tangle of dead trees sprawled

over the place a lawn could be


not neglectful, but endearing

a wildness in the city


the fig tree balding in late summer –

bottom layer green and holding on tight.


2 Autumn

There were three red apples

on the tree for weeks


and only today did he brave

the undercurrent of weeds



to find steady ground

to stand on to pick them.


They’re soft, puckered

as an old woman’s mouth


but we still love each other,

we cradle them – soft


unexpected treasures –

bring them inside to stew.


2 Winter

The plum tree spikes

naked against the brilliant blue


some kind of wide-leaved

hacked up tree trunk sends one


brave narrow shoot up

towards the sun


3 Spring

We promised each other we’d last till Spring


we’d survive the rain-soft

stairs, avoid the neighbours fighting above


clung tight in the dark chill nights

but mid-winter you put your fist


through the bedroom wall

and found nothing there


except weeds and air,

all this time nothing between


us and the outside world.

We never stood a chance.


Heidi North is a writer from Auckland, New Zealand. Her poetry and short stories have been published in New Zealand, Australia and the UK. She won an international Irish award for her poetry in 2007, and has won New Zealand awards for her short fiction. Heidi’s first poetry book Possibility of Flight was published by Makaro Press in 2015. She joined the Shanghai International Writers Programme along with ten other writers worldwide as the NZ fellow in September-October in 2016. She was award the Hachette/NZSA mentorship for 2017 to work on her first novel. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Auckland.