Miscarriage. Mynah Messiah. 2 Poems by Rachel J. Fenton


A German Shepherd has his head
and front paws in your hutch,
lifted off the lid
to climb in and almost had you.

I had woken from a dream; 
thought I’d heard someone
knocking the fence in.
Outside the bedroom window, 

the dog stares when I scream
‘Oh,’ as if I’ve discovered my baby
dead in my uterus. Gormless,
until I add, ‘Out, out, out,’

and run to the back door,
chase wolf away from rabbit 
skin. My bark
is worse than my bite.

I shout for its owners
to keep their dog under control
and carry you, close
to my chest, to the fence

to tell them what their dog 
has almost done. But they stare
blankly then the mother says,
‘He hardly ever gets out.’

Mynah Messiah
after the sculpture by Emily Valentine

In the woods that day it was sombre
As: graver than remembered 
years before; a dry October, 
wind making up for lack of rain.

There seemed fewer leaves on the ground,
so that each twig we trod sounded,
crack: the cocking of a gun. I recalled
walking the same track with my father,

each of us carrying coal 
black plastic sacks, reeling back in mock horror 
and admittedly part delight 
as he dragged up a rake load,
worms and other nasties, with his spade
hands and chucked them in the bin bags
before clutching the lot like a highwayman,
shooing Bess on ahead, 

hoisting our nipper on his shoulders
and nearly topping him on a low branch
of beech with moss moulded 
along one side. We should have reached
the quarry, the period
of time we'd been tramping, but had
yet to see the cut out slice of orange 
clay: the drop like citrus on taste buds

after sugar. You turned,
that's when I grabbed your arm,
pointed. Yis, it was the fearst 
robin you'd ivver seen and I let you 

admire it while I gave daggers to the lad
taking aim a few feet behind
it, air rifle framed by bare lime.
You talked all the way home

about how in New Zealand
you only see the mynah birds:
pists, nah, vermin, you said, you would
shoot the berluddy lot of 'em.


I cannot shout praises, or even speak 
my mind, my tongue is not complete; my own 
half father's, half mother's (theirs cleaved in form 
from others similarly), it is split 
in two, but I can mimic perfectly. In the morning 
I am nurture mother, tender succour to infant life, 
off peak sage advisor and child's advocate. 
By afternoon I manage (badly) 
mason entrepreneurs, part clown 
(to amuse, plus it helps with the juggling), part 
accountant (I'm told it never adds up, even 
if one can count), and part IT radicle, tapping 
into unseeded territories 
in the ether. In the evening, I wear 
comedy and tragedy (two faces 
optional, and here's where juggling's handy),
directions given from the rocking chair 
concealed in joviality. I sing 
them to sleep: lullabies, ballad of girl who stole 
riches from her parents, half sum 
from each, to buy herself a baby's life, a swim 
to her death. I sing wife, 
take my new husband for a sleeping pill 
until he pulls the cover over 
me and I am silent, once again, till dawn.


Acknowledgements lie
south west of a rock
shaped like a lion by a thousand years
		of storms and wild seas
and an artificial eye.

Your phone rings. Mynah
with a yellow eye mask 
and white arm bands, scavenger, turns
		 her head to look, burns
and I do not ask why

you do not answer.
Clouds make pied outcrops,
changing and transient as the point of who
	                      last used the shed key;
what pudding your mother likes.

And there is something 
else, a new message
and your shirt, the one I didn't buy you, printed 
		      	        roses, red, scattered,  
lying stained at my feet.


In the darkness the motions, however small,
like sounds, are exaggerated
so that a tired sigh, even a breath, 
takes on the auditory aura of the sea, 
so that doing nothing feels like doing something.

There are no screens in our room, no tv,
no visual means to play out others' lives. 
Only a black, now lightening to grey, expanse 
of window looking out on other windows 
looking somewhere into darker shade.

Rolling on my side, I feel the briefest touch, 
fingertip to fingertip, like a bird 
caught deep inside the pit of me, 
feel the pull of a hand contracting. 
Opening my eyes I am now able to see 

the small sooty outline of his face, peach stone for eye, rib 
cage unmoving. I'm sorry, there is no heartbeat.

There was a black bird caught inside the chimney,
when we had a chimney, and fire of course. 
It could be heard in there for days. Even in summertime 
it wouldn't turn, couldn't work out that escape 
came only by first going down.

And it was quiet one evening, until the flies. 
We lit a fire then, in June. Thirteen weeks it took to kill it.
We turn out the lights and it's still there; listening 
now I can hear it, trapped in the burnt shaft 
of malignant bricks, covered in soot, flying up.


A black face
appears in the mouth
of the hole

in the electrical box
at the top
of the telegraph pole

perhaps it isn't wired up right
shouldn't be there

but it's making a go of it 
all the same.

A nest 
with the best sea views 
on Beach Road.

Rachel J Fenton is an award-winning writer living in the South Island of New Zealand. Her fiction has won the University of Plymouth Short Fiction Prize, the Auckland University of Technology Creative Writing Prize, she came second in the Dundee International Book Prize, was longlisted for the Inaugural Michael Gifkins Unpublished Novel Prize, the Bristol Prize, and was shortlisted for the Cinnamon Press Debut Novel Prize. Her short stories have been anthologised in Stories of Hope Bushfire Relief Anthology (Aussie Speculative Fiction), Remembering Oluwale (Valley Press), Refugees Welcome (Co-Boox), Cooked Up, Food Fiction from Around the World (New Internationalist), and others. Also known as Rae Joyce, Rachel is Co-editor of Three Words, An Anthology of Aotearoa Women’s Comics (Beatnik).




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Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie's first novel, Stillwater, will be released in the spring of 2023. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

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