Friday Poem – A Birthmother’s Catechism


This week’s poem is from Carrie Etter’s Imagined Sons, first published in 2014, which has been shortlisted for the 2014 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.

In Imagined Sons  Carrie Etter has written a book of vivid, heartbreaking poems on the experience of giving up a child for adoption. A prize-winning author, lecturer, critic and popular blogger, Etter imagines the possible destinies for the child and presents us with various scenarios from the tragic to the absurd. That the child’s birthday is also Sept. 11th adds a layer of irony and pathos, ‘What is the anniversary of loss?’ – asks the narrator in one of the ‘Birthmother’s Catechism’ poems. A pamphlet containing some of these poems was a Poetry Book Society Choice.

A Birthmother’s Catechism

How did you let him go?

With black ink and legalese

How did you let him go?

It’d be another year before I could vote

How did you let him go?

With altruism, tears, and self-loathing

How did you let him go?

A nurse brought pills for drying up breast milk

How did you let him go?

Who hangs a birdhouse from a sapling?

Order a copy of Imagined Sons from our website.

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