Poems: Nurture and Juno

Two poems, Nurture and Juno, from poet Liz Quirke

Liz Quirke

Liz Quirke


In the nine months I didn’t nourish you, I made notes, I studied the seasons for ingredients to encourage your growth. Scraps of paper, post-its hidden in case anyone would view my thoughts, pity my trivia of leaves and berries.

A mom yet not a mother, a woman yet not a woman. My preparation took place in private, not in maternity wards or hospital corridors, but in the hallways of my mind where I could put up pictures, time lines, fill cork boards with plans.

As the folic acid built your brain stem I collated ideas to stimulate it further, mapped journeys for us, paths we could walk together, a staggered relay to start when your other mother passed your tiny form to me.

And I could see myself holding your hand, using my limbs to scaffold the structure your mother put so beautifully in place. I am your mom without the biology of mothering. All I have for you is my heart, my brain, my lists of things, all but those nine months when I was waiting.



I gave you a warrior name. Brazen, audacious, a statement of intent.

After the third scan, I set out across the world’s mythologies to uncover the name to herald you.

I found you in the pages of an old hardback, barely two inches in a row of columns.

Sensible, poised, waiting for me to arrive and collect you at the obvious conclusion, assured that this is where you had always been.

For weeks after our first meeting you kept me company.

Your name fell in ink from my pen until that sturdy bulk of letters came as familiar as my own.

The shape of you rolled around my mouth like a boiled sweet, pushing taste to unreachable corners, forcing my buds awake until I had a full sense of you.

Your vowels whispered through my lips, soft as the steam after a kettle click.

And when you arrived, emergent, slow to pink, but quickly, so quickly, your name gushed out of my mouth like your first breath,

triumphant, your first victory, your battle cry.