The Weight of the Baby


Andrew Lansdown

Hovea Press, 1997
(chapbook, 8 pages)






Title Poem


The Weight of the Baby

Marroning, Wellington Weir

I stay behind with the baby
while they check the baits—
my wife, my children. They are
that light skirting the shore.

My new son lounges in my arms,
staring at my face, which is
(like his own but less sweetly)
uneven with shadow and shine.

Gas hisses in the lamp’s gauze.
A sudden wind scours the weir
like a scoop net. Behind me,
the trees break out in tongues.

Sensing the soft grasp of sleep,
the child begins to struggle,
limbs erratic and ineffectual
as a marron marooned on its back.

‘Don’t be cross,’ I murmur,
hugging him, rocking him. ‘Hush.’
I am gentled from my gender,
staying back with the baby.

He settles and slips away.
His head becomes heavy,
like a melon, in the crook
of my arm. Light meshes

in his hair as if in a mantle.
Distant but distinct, I hear
my eldest son scoop and exclaim.
A scrabble of claws on wire.

The water is black but the sky
is spattered with stars.
I imagine the many rubies
of the marron’s torchlit eyes.

I watch my family, my loves,
move further into the darkness.
A mopoke cries from the forest.
I feel the weight of the baby.

I feel the weight but am light.
O Lord, my soul is very still,
quiet and still, even as an infant
asleep in his father’s arms.

© Andrew Lansdown

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