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No Other Mother

Kelly-Eve Koopman

So many times I’ve asked you to tell me about your suffering.

To tell me how your body carried me quietly

into the prison, if I made you slower when you ran from the cops.

To tell me when you knew dad was thoroughly mad

and when exactly you knew all you could do was leave.

I’ve asked about who you were in moments when the world felt

like a wound,

but I’ve asked far too little about your joy.

So tell me now how it feels to be bionic in both knees and at


to hike a mountain for the first time, and at sixty

to buy books, to book a holiday, to clip your hair

into grey feathers skimming shoulders,

that are nearly unknotted.

Tell me what it’s like to get taller at sixty.

I’ve asked you a lot about our almost deaths and nothing

about how we’ve brought ourselves to life again and again

from the same relentless bones,

iterated from the same sequence of cells over and..

I’ve asked you too much about the things that put us in the


and not enough about all the things that unburied us.

Tell me now about the joy that stitches our muscles to marrow,

with the same tightness my great- great grandmother

(your great grandmother) sewed smiling

sequins onto great gowns.

Nobody took account of the offcuts of laughter

Spilling out onto the factory floor

but we all know it was there.

Nobody photographed the regret spilled

all over the maternity ward,

but I know it was there.

Tell me about how giving life is the most

absolute erasure,

how mothers are othered inhuman,

how the worlds you’ve made want

everything from you,

even your shadow.

And now that you’ve taken off the name


and dressed yourself in your own, now

that you’ve

unbarred your body, shrugged off

children, parents,

too old to be carried on your back,

now, and at sixty, will you tell me who

you are?


Kelly-Eve Koopman has written and published a number of works, including her debut memoir I Couldn't Kill published by Melinda Ferguson Books, longlisted for the Sunday Times National Book Award. She is also the co-curator of the acclaimed LGBTQI anthology They Called Me Queer. Kelly - Eve currently works in TV and film and continues to create and facilitate opportunities for radical imagination work across different forms and modalities.



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