Brain Sorrow

by Rebecca Gethin


As a child I lived with the voice

of someone other than myself

embedded in the nerves of my thalamus.

At first I thought it must be soul

answering to mind. (No one could tell me

where it lived inside my anatomy

though I asked and asked.)  Together

they’d be singing as if I wasn’t there

my limbic life flowing on beneath them

while they teased out issues from all

dredged up things I hadn’t thought of,

the two seahorses of the hippocampi

reminding me of who said what to who.

I grew convinced my absent mother

spoke to me this way by day, freed up

by language I was learning

to decipher from neurons reacting

and responding like bats to echoes in the cortex.

At night she came through the door

of dreams to the cistern of my skull

as something inside tiptoed along the spine

between my life, her death.


Rebecca Gethin has written 5 poetry publications and has been a Hawthornden Fellow and a Poetry School tutor. Messages was a winner in the first Coast to Coast to Coast pamphlet competition. Vanishings from Palewell Press and Fathom from Marble are forthcoming in 2020.


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