Finest: Dawn Bauling – “In the lane”

Dawn Bauling Finest

In the lane

There wasn’t time
to make a child. Late
we’d come to it
and void-wombed.
We’d already loved four.

Instead we formed
bodies in willow,
rowan-armed, beech-legged,
fern-swaddled

silver poplar
through their early hair;
soft-clothed
in spindrift like gypsies.

They ran like leats,
endless and undying,
singing like finches
in a home hedge.

This was our other seed,
our other sap and planting.
Our best, our very best of us,
their unheard whistle, our strong song.

I wait for them
in the sometimes lane –
you in front, me behind –
echoed tread and missing:

the four we loved,
the four we didn’t have.


In the lane is one of those poems that maybe hasn’t had the exposure that others of mine have had, but I’m nevertheless very fond of it. It encapsulates something about relationships in later life, that Ronnie and I have encountered. When you meet someone after both having had families apart from each other, and when time hasn’t allowed you that possibility, there is the impossible speculation about what our children would have been like, what we would have made together. I have had two and Ronnie likewise, four beautiful creatures (one no longer with us) who are essential parts of our pasts, nows and futures. We often talk about them as we take to the moor and coast, to the forest where we live. But what about imaginary offspring as much a part of where we live, walk and love as ones that we did have, being birthed from our shared love of nature and places, rather than biology; those thought-created naiads and dryads that are the very best of us – our lives intertwining to make children we can never have, but can still give birth to? They come with us too as we walk, and did particularly strongly on a day we were walking down a lane into Porthoustock on The Lizard. It was as if I could see them in the shadowy places. Ronnie and I are blessed with rich inner lives. To meet someone who is so in tune with that, so understanding of it, allows freedoms that many never have. It is a very lovely fertility. This poem was the result

“People have noticed a sense of longing within the lines which was deliberate. If only we had met sooner, perhaps there would have been time… my hair, his legs? Heaven forbid the other way round!”


Dawn Bauling is a graduate in both English and Library Science. She has won several poetry awards, been widely published in the poetry press and has two published  collections: Loud Voices in the Quiet Child (Indigo Dreams, 2008) and Shippen (Indigo Dreams, 2014). She is co-director of Indigo Dreams, is editor of Sarasvati and The Dawntreader magazines and with Ronnie was awarded the Ted Slade Award for Services to Poetry. Her joint collection with Ronnie Forest moor or less  won the Best Collaborative Work 2021 at the Saboteur Literary Awards.  Dawn also works as Media Officer for the NHS.

One comment

  1. Absolutely heart rending. A well written, original poem that says so much.

    Like

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