Ray's poem of
Sarah's birth, 1981



When I feel the need
to push

I pant.
Staccato breaths

arrest (temporarily)
the head

butting the dark,
ease the incumbent

flesh, allay the little
agonies of labour

until the quick,
complete surrender

to the weight of
rushing water. And

like water
like fire

the baby comes –
brutal, cruel,

and simply beautiful.
Then the flames

about the flesh
expire, and the body

bruised and bloodied
lies wasted on the bed,

broken like the husk
of some exotic fruit.

And after being blind
at birth

my mind now wakes
and leaps around the room

yet cannot rest or settle
until it holds the child

like vacuum a void
or fire a fever –

a void
only joy can fill,

a fever
only love assuages.


© Ray Liversidge
From 'Obeying the Call' published 2003

“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*

I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.

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* Gloria Steinem