Lauren Watson shares her personal journey to motherhood with Mona's readers this week in her poem, 'You'. The challenges and celebrations that she experienced are captured in her poem, and the piece contributes to a larger topical narrative about conception, the complexities of which are currently being explored in mainstream media and social commentary channels.
I saw you, in the darkness.
I didn’t know your name, but I saw you.
When my chest was crushing in and the oxygen was suffocating me, I saw you.
Out there. Wherever you were.
But I didn’t believe it, I doubted it, I told myself it was just a cruel trick.
But when I closed my eyes I kept seeing you with him, your hand gripping tightly to his finger.
Your head on his shoulder, his hand on your back.
Your arms around my neck.
Your eyes staring endlessly into mine.
I knew you were meant to be.
But you didn’t, you wouldn’t, come.
My body ached for you. It physically ached. I still feel that ache, now, when I go back there.
My heart yearned for you. I spoke to you in my heart. I begged and bargained for you.
And yet, you still wouldn’t come.
I wasn’t sure I would survive it.
And then, there you suddenly were.
A surprise, unexpected. Two lines. A flutter on a screen.
I still wouldn’t, couldn’t, allow myself to believe it.
Now when I closed my eyes I couldn’t see you.
You were nearer than ever but I just couldn’t picture you.
I could feel you, it felt seismic. Alien. Magic.
But that wasn’t enough.
I was sure it was a trick, you still wouldn’t be mine.
And then, one ordinary yet extraordinary Wednesday, you were there. Our eyes locked.
You were a stranger, just arrived. I didn’t yet know you, but my heart did.
I held you, touched you. You were real, squirming, actualised before me.
I heard you, those lungs knew instinctively to scream. They still do from time to time…
And today, I recognised you.
You really are that girl I saw in my wildest dreams.
You had his finger held so tightly, your little feet padding along.
Your sweet voice babbling away.
Your big eyes lit with wonder.
You’re living proof miracles happen. You fill my days, my world, my heart, my lungs with breath, my cup.
My wild, my wonderful, my spirited queen of the fairies.
Interview with the Author
Lauren Watson sits down with Mona's Poetry, Fiction and Experimental Forms Editor, Lauren (we know, so confusing!), to discuss the process and influences on her writing.
The poem 'You' has a very personal tone, can you tell us about the experience behind it that led you to write it?
Our journey to meeting our daughter was not a straightforward one. I guess when you are doing anything difficult there is an internal monologue that is sitting behind a “strong” or “brave” face. I was pretty hard on myself and my mental health took a pretty big beating but I could still visualise this baby we were wishing for (was this good or bad? Hard to say!). Whilst away with my husband’s family on holidays when my daughter was around 11 months old, I had this sense of déjà vu watching her and my husband walking hand in hand and I felt this intense recognition that this is one of the visualisations I had of her before she’d come into being.
Much of this poem is about the physical sensations of loss, anticipation, birth, how did you choose the specific moments that you explore in so much sensory detail in the poem?
I’m a teacher and often we tell our students “don’t think, just write” and I feel like this is one of those moments! The initial process of writing was just an outpouring of emotion. For a woman, our physical and emotional beings are so inextricably linked when bringing a baby into the world. This was a cathartic way for me to process the visceral feelings and emotions that were bubbling up at the time.
How do you think poetry helps us to explore the personal?
Sometimes our thoughts and feelings about big moments in our life aren’t ordered or linear. Emotion has a profound physical effect on your body; how fast your heart is beating, the rhythm of your breathing. What I love about writing, and poetry in particular, is that there can be a freedom to write in a way that reflects this. An idea doesn’t need to be technically ‘complete’ and sometimes a single word can articulate the feeling of a moment perfectly.
You have written the poem and addressed it to your child, is there a reason you chose to write it this way rather than about her?
This isn’t the first time I have written to her. When I’m struggling with something I often turn inward and writing is a helpful process for me. The first time I wrote to her was when I was pretty much at rock bottom. I was putting it out to her, wherever she was in the universe, that even though it felt hopeless, that my heart was open to her. So I guess, in a sense, I was writing to her from the ‘other side’. That my faith in her had withstood all the weather we had to make it through to find one another.
Lauren Watson (she/her) was born and raised on Wiradjuri Country on a dry area farm in Barellan, New South Wales. She is drawn to all things creative and loves to paint and make music. Lauren attended Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, studying a Bachelor of Education (Primary). She now works as a primary teacher at a local school and is passionate about teaching the arts and literacy, instilling in her students a life-long love of reading and creative writing. Her proudest achievement to date is the birth of her daughter Maeve and together they fill their days with reading books, singing songs and plenty of crazy dancing.
Lauren Forner is the Fiction, Poetry and Experimental Forms Editor at Mona Magazine. She has been awarded various prizes for her short stories and published a collection of poetry, Parts of a Whole, in 2021. Lauren has years of experience teaching English literature and creative writing to teenagers, adults and children and reads like her life depends on it. She is perpetually completing her Masters in Creative Writing and, like all good writers, working on the elusive novel. Lauren currently lives on Wiradjuri land in the Riverina, New South Wales, and dedicates most of her waking hours to her work in public mental health.
Have you got a story to tell?
Submissions for Issue 3 of Mona Magazine close 28th of February!
Mona accepts (and pays authors of!) all forms of story telling from rural and regional women: short stories, flash fiction, essays, memoirs, poetry, artwork, photography... the more experimental the better!