Two poems by Charley Barnes

79 weeks old

When I asked the doctor what to expect in the next six months,
he made the same expression that I once made
in the minutes before morning sickness.

“Will she even make six months?” became stuck
between two vocal chords; there were no forceps
to hand for me to try and ease words out.

“Why don’t we take one week at a time?” he said.

Now when people ask how old my daughter is, I say:
“She is 79 weeks.”
I long for the day when I can tell people her age in months.


First response: panic

I haven’t told him; instead, I have hidden it
in the bathroom bin underneath tissue paper
and make-up-stained baby wipes.

It says seven weeks but I don’t know how it knows.
I drink two litres of water, take another test,
and hope that this time I fail.

Charley Barnes is a Worcester-based poet and author who spends most of her time drinking tea and thinking about words. She has recently gained her Doctorate degree in Creative Writing and now spends her days wondering what to do with it. Charley’s debut short story collection, The Women You Were Warned About, was published in May 2017, and her debut poetry pamphlet is due to be published later this year.

Our JustGiving page is open for donations to the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund – no amount is too small if you feel moved to support.


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