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Carol J Forrester



the poet

Raised in rural North Shropshire, Carol J Forrester balances words and numbers by writing poems for pleasure when not working in finance. Interwoven throughout Carol's work is her passion for history – especially that of women and folklore. She's seen her poetry published in Ink, Sweat & Tears, Hencroft, The Daily Drunk, The Drabble and Eyes+Words, and her debut collection, It’s All In The Blood, appeared in 2019. Her second, Stone Tongued, was published in March 2024.

the poems

Dandelions Have Roots
In Necromancy

00:00 / 00:53

            and if you carry the soil-clotted plant between your palms

            it might bring you luck.

            As may the air-spun halos, 

            when preserved in small pouches

            hidden around doorways, along hallways. 

            Petals pressed by water against a patterned teacup,

            might dream you forward.

            The white latex leaking from a broken stem 


            treats warts. 

            A coven of tiny priestesses are little psychopomps, buzzing

            on their glorious golden knees,

            Artemis in their prayers. 

            Day turns to night, and every dusk the moon rises full

            followed by the sun’s lion face at dawn,

            birth, death, renewal.

            All sunshine, and toothy leaves. 

The Birth Plan
Is Abandoned

00:00 / 03:17

You will not react to the pain meds like your father, and sister do. It will be fine. They’ll let you sleep, for all of six hours, across three days, during a labour that refuses to comply with any actions taken. You will hear the words two centimetres from every midwife in the hospital. When they increase the oxytocin, it will drop your daughter’s heart rate, and you’ll be told not to worry. They will attempt to break your waters. Twice. Neither time will they need to change the sheets, except for when you throw up so hard you wet yourself. Speaking of which, a nurse will tell you only a few cases of labour result in the mother retaining urine. Lucky you, you get to be special. The nurse will doubt it until you have spent the last twenty-four hours weeing into bowls every twenty minutes, only for the catheter to drain a litre and half from your bladder. For the first time in your life, you actually feel every muscle loosen in your body. For a moment, you are utterly relaxed. They will bring your supper while your feet are still in stirrups. The third, or fourth time the heartbeat on the monitor falters, you will meet the consultant, who seems to think you’ll fight her on a C-section. By that time you won’t even know what she looks like, because your eyelids will not open. The anaesthetist comments when you doze on the surgical table. Your daughter shits herself on the way out. You can’t move your arms for an hour. The epidural goes higher than expected, and it makes you shiver until you rattle the bed. When you can’t lift them to cradle her, they have your husband feed the baby your colostrum with a syringe. Spend another three days fighting with your breasts to find a hold that fits her latch, and end up soaking in your own milk, her skin the colour of a tangerine. No one mentions how much blood you lost until seven days later when a panic attack drags you back to the hospital because you cannot administer the blood thinners yourself. Indigestion dogs you until your mother gives you bicarb dissolved in water, and you burp fizzy. Pain is a firework that keeps relighting month, after month, at all sorts of inconvenient hours. Then somewhere down the road, you pick up a book that tells you there was a study on bicarb being administered to pregnant persons an hour before inductions around 2016. That the number of vaginal births was higher by 17% but researchers were denied further funding because weak contractions were not a high enough priority. Funny that. Maybe I could have kept that litre of blood. Maybe there was more I could have done. Maybe the answer was sitting in my kitchen cupboard, in the garden, or in another space too domestic to be considered. How much power is overlooked among the thorns?


00:00 / 01:04

                        It all takes too long.

                        Sheep too narrow, lamb too big,

                        rain hammering on a tin roof

                        scattering the quiet.

                        Sunrise still sulks out of sight,

                        out of mind.

                        The farmyard a black mirror,

                        midden cloaked in shadows

                        until the security light catches

                        on a fox scurrying for shelter.

                        Knelt in the straw,

                        concrete cold on her knees,

                        her breath is mist.

                        Knuckles tucked between

                        the new-born’s ankles

                        as she pulls it free.

                        She lays it straight,

                        rubs a fistful of bedding

                        to its ribcage.

                        Tries to scrub breath

                        back into its body. 

                        Twenty miles away,

                        her own child will be sleeping.

                        Her husband’s mother

                        holding her place

                        until spring runs its course. 

                        She lays the lamb by the door,

                        notes to call Bradshaw’s

                        in the morning

                        and tries not to carry it home

                        to the empty room

                        where the cot is waiting.

Publishing credits

Dandelions Have Roots In Necromancy /

  The Birth Plan Is Abandoned: Stone Tongued (Self-published)

Newborn: Ink, Sweat & Tears 

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