Sequence: “Motherhood” and other poems by Laura Daly

The Leaking Breast

Premature mother’s milk escapes my swollen breast
Unapologetically heralding the other inside.

‘You’ll never be lonely again’ the inane
distortion of the truth of never
Occupying aloneness.

Your body holds but a temporary occupier
Once released your mind will be prostrate before them
Simultaneous ecstasy and anguish.

You will crave
The control of the cocooning womb –
Even now breached by the disruption of the leaking breast.


Washing my mother’s hair after an operation.

Bent over the under the showerhead,
Submissive as the child I was
I feel a strange feeling, knowing I too will wash the
Hair of my child growing inside me.
I occupy the position now of the in-between carer.

I lovingly smooth away suds
Under the steaming water
And wish she knew
How much in that moment that I cared.
I badger her restless nature in a vain, cyclical attempt to protect.
There is a comfort in this moment
Of vulnerability
For us both.

I will protect as she protected,
I will mind, as she has always minded,
And we will love intrinsically forever bonded, bound spiritually.


The Abortion Referendum – May 25th 2018.

She will bow to the patriarchal figurehead of the Church
and it’s grotesquely skewed morality and
Vote No.
Bitter words have passed between my mother and I –
Yet she is adamant.

‘Do you believe then that abortion should be illegal everywhere?’
‘What about all the women who will still want or need abortions if the vote does not pass?’

Silence. A superior, taciturn morality. Divorced from the reality of the human condition
And the female body.

My unborn inside me forbids me travel,
I am ironically excluded, my adopted home holding my
Pregnant body hostage
As my maternal home does to thousands of pregnant bodies

I crave the little girl inside me.
For her future autonomy
I crave for her grandmother to recognise the nuances of female life,
Female choice, female autonomy.

But I crave in vain and look instead to my undecided father
To vote for his two absent daughters
His two granddaughters
His wife.


For the Pleasure of the Male Gaze

Have you ever seen a rose so riotous in bloom
that the inner petals outdo the outer
for the pure please of life, for reaching the sun first? –

Why should the gardener cut off the inner petals,
Harm the rose,
For the pleasure of the male gaze?

Who would look at the open fruit and then attempt to sew it up?
Who would mute and paint the vibrant colours of the butterfly
To fit with ill-fitting, fleeting trends of fancy –

Where else in this wonderful world of natural beauty
do we so utterly, subconsciously, unquestioningly exist purely for the pleasure of the male

Our bodies no more than parenthesis encircling the vehicle for male desire.
Our minds continuously redrawn to mirror a society from which we are continuously

Go forth, bloom.



You called out to me in the semi-darkness on the naked street
On my way to the station
And I turned in the usual way to see if you were sneering at me,
half hoping for the friend who would return your call.
There was no one else there.

You chip away at my sense of freedom with your emboldened, unwelcome presence
Intruding into my psyche;
One of the lads.

Striking that you probably could barely make out my form
Detail still smothered by weakening night
Other you sensed instinctively and that yearning to assert ignited.
Interesting no one there to witness or applaud, habit.

My sense of caution heightened, exactly as you wanted
The power of my early morning commute marginally diminished
By wariness

Chip away with stares
Chip away with an unwanted brush against us
Chip away with sending pictures to your friends
Chip away with shouting ‘compliments’ at us
Chip away with beeping your horn while we are running
Chip away by asserting dominance in the home
Chip away by doing less in the home
Chip away by paying us less
Chip away by using pregnancy as subtle way to hold us back in our careers
Chip away by idealising unrealistic body types

Be sure not to recognise yourself here,
be sure to demonise me,
Be sure not to admit to the greatest oppression of our age,
Easier to label me, than see what we see.



We force meaning on sadness and madness
to make it

We assign reason to the deep cracks in our souls
Building paper bridges over chasms on which to travel with fragile dreams.

To give the pulsing wound a rudimentary suture
And watch it scar ruefully

But happiness needs no storyline
It sits like a perfect, unexpected, dewy morning mist on a field
Crystallising what it touches

Soon to vanish with the rising sun –


Sequence: “Motherhood” and other poems are © Laura Daly

Laura Daly is a poet, writer and teacher born and raised in Dublin, now living in Amsterdam with her husband and daughter. She holds a BA in English Literature, an MA in Gender and Writing and a Postgraduate Diploma in Education from University College Dublin. She also received her MEd in Leadership and Management in Education from Trinity College Dublin. Her passion is feminism and exploring and making visible the female experience through her writing. She is working towards her first collection of poetry as well as a feminist non-fiction book for teenage girls titled Welcome to the Desert of the Real.

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