New Welsh Review

Say That My Illness Were a Fairy Child

Poem by Jenny Pagdin

PUBLISHED ON: 28/07/21


TAGS: birth, conflicted identity, duality, illness, loyalty, maternity, post-natal depression, pregnancy

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…and that for years I carried her unwittingly
but when the pangs came for him
she slipped out too, like a seal pup.
Say I blew raspberries into her belly button,
applying balms with cotton wool,
cradled her in lullabies and nursery rhymes,
lip-traced her non-existent eyebrows
and held out my pinkies to both small fists.

Well what else could I have done? Let’s say it was love,
that I didn’t care that my hair was dishevelled.
and I wasn’t prepared to be ashamed
of this colicky fey little changeling.
My daughter’s my daughter for all of her life
– what was there to do but embrace her?


Jenny Pagdin studied English at Oxford University for her BA and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia for her MA. Her pamphlet, Caldbeck, which tells the story of her postnatal psychosis, was published by Eyewear in 2017, was shortlisted for the Mslexia pamphlet competition and listed by the Poetry Book Society. She won the 2020 Alumno Norwich City Wall commission and the Café Writers Norfolk prize, 2017. Jenny was longlisted for the Rebecca Swift Foundation Women’s Poetry Prize 2018. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Smoke, Magma, Ambit, The Stand, Wild Court, Finished Creatures, Ink, Sweat & Tears and the Emma Press Anthology of Contemporary Gothic Verse.