Louise Wallace

Louise Wallace is the author of three collections of poetry published by Victoria University Press, most recently Bad Things (2017). She is the founder and editor of Starling. Louise lives in Dunedin with her husband and their young son.


These poems are from a series I’m working on that uses text lifted from the Huggies Week by Week Guide to Pregnancy. The text was fed through poet Gregory Kan’s text manipulator app and then shaped and altered into its final form/s.


like a heart

forming channels
like a tube
like a heart
            primitive –
like a tadpole
like a nail head
or an orange seed
            it is a chance
no greater than one percent
it is a personal decision
it is a risky time
for your relationship
you have a partner
who does not yet know
how the world works
to whom
it is not yet obvious
that it has begun
            you find yourself
confronting all the news
and its effects –
your disappointment
your delight
the guilt of every woman –
her worry
her joy
her excitement
her meltdowns
            and it looks as though
you are lying
on your stomach?
are you lying
on your stomach?
you may have a heavy sensation
feel more full
more physically ill
            have you expected
you can do enough?
enough to prevent
someone else’s body odour
the fumes of a car
your nostrils are powerful –
is it more down to need
or are you feeling
            last week
is very similar
to this week
in how you may be feeling –
you worry
don’t worry
you don’t look any different
it’s a fairly classic sensation –
symptoms officially known and counted
by the morning calculators online
            it’s the best time for your imagination
to wander
when you haven’t checked
that there isn’t
something going on


you have become an expert

imagine a different time
when ‘they’ was ‘then’
and women could be naked
and pet a snake’s teeth

a time started
on the smell of one coffee
a glimpse
through eternity’s eye

meat can make you emotional
but love & body don’t have to be exclusive
when you nestle into your little home
in this specific way

ignore what your brain is telling you
its false sensations
big ideas can make you feel nervous
in the same way that enamel can feel expensive

don’t concentrate on the calendar
to check your apprehension
it is impossible to be wrong
just as it is to be awake
just as it is to have one feeling



your subconscious

                  is a deformed mother

      a creep with strange hair

healthy blood cells

                  your hardiest organs
                  pruning off

sense and science

      your reality with questions

                  you need company

and extra vegetables

      someone messages you about beans
      ice and other


                  not hearing

      when you say the word coping over

their frightening stories

                        that seem to grow
                  in your mind like lanugo

buy a small container they tell you

                        to store
                  your many questions

                  it’s convenient

to be organised rather
                        than unattractive

      nobody should find
such great pleasure

                  in muffins


have confidence in fibre

come home to strip off your clothing, an outbreak of raising a little bean. say hello to an unwelcome second bout of adolescence. you still look like you might have friends. have confidence in fibre.

brush away your unwelcome friends, your own mum or other women who have had children but who are now officially hungry sex glands. be attentive to your toothbrush, to your own middle lifting up. try herbal tea or ginger beer, or a blueberry the size of disbelief.

you wouldn’t mind if they inherited your clothing, but your adolescence is so far back. they may be sensitive to that family nose, those lips you get your power from. there is a thickening around your own abilities to speak of your excitement. brushing against the inside, there is a little bean.