Nuala Watt


(listen to the poem, read by author)

Epilepsy wrecks the place then leaves
six scented candles on. Note on the door.
You kept me up all night, you bastards. E.
Cerebral Palsy cries. Dyspraxia
doesn’t know how to help and drops a plate.

For all these housemates I am somewhat cramped
although B12-Deficiency’s asleep
and Corneal Abrasion is a guest.
Anxiety moved out but left her stuff
while Asthma works elsewhere in summertime
and in midwinter likes the door ajar.

‘Who hid my cigarettes? Dyspraxia!’
CP and Partial Sight block out the noise.
Twelve thousand games ago they bought the house.
Dyspraxia upsets the Scrabble board.
Cerebral Palsy hunts for missing blanks.
‘Hi guys, it’s Migraine. Think I lost my key. ‘

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Why Am I Not Like A Swift?

(listen to the poem, read by the author)

Dear lord and father of birds
did you never think
how it might ease the terrifying nights with a newborn –

when I think I might drop or vomit on my daughter
because I moved my head -

if we had brains        like those of swifts or swallows - 
one hemisphere asleep, 
the other active?

Suppose our shattered halves could take shift 
and shift about
like addled parents?

I covet asymmetric slow wave sleep 
and you won’t give it,

I can’t leave my new daughter in a mud cup or a crevice. 
Colic insists I hold and sing to her
though only my breasts are awake.

Alone in the spinning night I briefly hate her father
who is finally asleep beside us.

Immortal invisible 
                   what were you thinking?

To keep me awake 
                         to keep her alive

the singing is a safety protocol.

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About the Author

Nuala Watt lives and works in Glasgow. Her poems have appeared in anthologies including Stairs and Whispers: D/Deaf and Disabled Writers Write Back (Nine Arches Press 2017), A Year of Scottish Poems (Pan Macmillan 2018) and To Mind Your Life: Poems for Nurses and Midwives (Polygon/Scottish Poetry Library 2021). Poems have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4. Current interests include visual impairment as a creative context and the relationship between disability and parenthood.