Pale cover with drawing of block of flats with a mother and two children like a mural on its sideI Have Grown Two Hearts, Zoë Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe

The Hedgehog Press, 2020      £7.99

The last word

Both poets and parents know how important it is to have the final word! So, it’s fitting that Zoë Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe has used her last lines to such full effect in her pamphlet about motherhood, the perfectly titled I Have Grown Two Hearts.

The opening poem ‘Ultrasound’ is about the conception of a baby through IVF. The poet writes of ‘anxious doctors’, ‘a faint pulse’ and ‘a globe encapsulating hope’, all of which imply the fragility of this new life. The final couplet is then used to great effect painting an energetically contrasting picture:

Now we see a somersaulting black and white image,
trying to kick its way out of the photograph.

The poet also uses concluding lines for comic effect — as in ‘Pregnancy’ where the scientific description of ‘mental fatigue jokingly called ‘baby brain’’ builds to a final line which dispenses with medical definitions for a great punchline:

Body strain caused by doing two things at once;
creating a baby
and everything else

She even manages to strike a gong with just one word. In ‘The American Museum’ she describes a birthing bed: ‘Half-crescent nail marks / bruised into the oak flesh’, before closing with a strong image of what I took to be survival in the final word:

The child —
blood smeared
over closed eyes.
Fists clenched,

I enjoyed the last lines throughout this pamphlet — culminations with resounding impact.

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