In the latest issue:

In Quarantine

Erin Maglaque

Après Brexit

Ferdinand Mount

Short Cuts: Springtime for Donald

David Bromwich

Meetings with their Gods

Claire Hall

‘Generation Left’

William Davies

At the North Miami Museum: Alice Paalen Rahon

Mary Ann Caws

Buchan’s Banter

Christopher Tayler

‘American Dirt’

Christian Lorentzen

Fiction and the Age of Lies

Colin Burrow

In Lahore

Tariq Ali


James Lasdun

Rereading Bowen

Tessa Hadley

At the Corner House

Rosemary Hill

William Gibson

Thomas Jones

Poem: ‘Murph & Me’

August Kleinzahler

The Stud File

Kevin Brazil

John Boorman’s Quiet Ending

David Thomson

In Shanghai: The West Bund Museum

John-Paul Stonard

Diary: The Deborah Orr I Knew

Jenny Turner

The Word from Wuhan

Wang Xiuying

Six ChildrenMark Ford
Vol. 26 No. 8 · 15 April 2004

Six Children

Mark Ford

193 words

‘Though unmarried I have had six children’
Walt Whitman

The first woman I ever got with child wore calico
In Carolina. She was hoeing beans; as a languorous breeze
I caressed her loins, until her hoe lay abandoned in the furrow.

The second was braving the tumultuous seas that encircle
This fish-shaped isle; by the time a sudden riptide tore
Her from my grasp, she had known the full power of Paumanok.

One matron I waylaid – or was it she who waylaid

Me? – on a tram that shook and rattled and
Rang from Battery Park to Washington Heights and back.

O Pocahontas! You died as Rebecca Rolfe, and are buried
In Gravesend. Your distant descendant, her swollen belly
Taut as a drum, avoids my eye, and that of other men-folk.

While my glorious diva hurls her enraptured soul to the gods,
I sit, dove-like, brooding in the stalls: what in me is vast,
Dark and abysmal, her voice illumines and makes pregnant.

Some day, all together, we will stride the open road, wheeling
In an outsized pram my sixth, this broken, mustachioed
Soldier whose wounds I bind up nightly. His mother I forget.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences