Heart Poems for Children’s Heart Week – Day Five


Discovering your child has a heart condition can be very traumatic.  The Children’s Heart Federation (CHF) and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) offer support. There’s  Heart Helpline, Children’s helplines and online forums.  For very young children, facing surgery the CHF has introduced MOLLY’S DOLLY, a rag doll with surgical scars to help explain scarring.  For children growing up with heart conditions there is BRIGHTHEARTS ‘an exclusive forum especially for 13-21 year olds from the Children’s Heart Federation. It’s a place to meet people of a similar age from around the UK with a heart condition.’  At the BHF there’s Meet@teenheart, a forum for teenagers with heart conditions offering advice on hospital visits and surgery, as well as providing online glossaries, diagrams and factsheets.


by Heidi Williamson

The way I heard it,
she said the rain would slip down, and each blade
lift beneath the weight of drops in ecstasy.
She said, sleep now, close the folds of your eyes
and see blankness, those lights that only you can know.
Forget the empty screen, the full book, the broken words.
The largest animals on earth have bones the same as yours,
and the smallest. The fingers of a bat’s wing, the massive
heart of a giraffe all connect their instruments to you.
She said this is prayer, if anything is, the simple lift
and fall of a lung beneath ribs beneath skin and all
the myriad functions that spawn it. Forget the frogs
beneath frozen ponds, waiting motionless for winter
to break. Hear only this breath, its air. Help form
the clouds with each out-take. Watch each breath
coast towards other lands and creatures. Let it go.

(First published in The Rialto, 2011)

Heidi Williamson’s first collection Electric Shadow (Bloodaxe Books, 2011) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and shortlisted for the 2012 Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for Poetry. In 2008 and 2009 she was poet-in-residence at the London Science Museum’s Dana Centre. She is currently poet-in-residence at the John Jarrold Printing Museum. Find out more about her at www.heidiwilliamsonpoet.com Twitter: @heidiwilliamson See her read ‘Adhesion’ here.


From: Opera di Cera 
by Kelley Swain

My love, with your scents of sunlight and myrrh: you carry
the greatest gift. Take this crown of oregano, rosemary, bay;

this ring with an emerald like your eyes. We are promised
to one another, and to the planted babe. A humble trinity.

First, he’ll be a pine nut; precious woody kernel tucked safe
within your sheathes; evergreen-strength yet to be released.

His green pistachio-limbs will begin to take shape, wax-pliant,
and he will branch into humanness slowly, in dark fertile terrain.

His almond-mind will grow sharp; his almond-spirit sweet; dust
of mother’s saffron, of father’s paints. Patience, stillness, he’ll gain.

Head and heart will round with the tenderness of walnut. No
more certain shape: the two sides of brain; left and right hemisphere.

Blessed chestnut will make our child sure. From thence, in range
of mother’s womb, his tiny form secure. We with joy await him.

(First published in Opera di Cera, Kelley Swain, Valley Press, 2014)

Kelley Swain is a poet, writer, and guest lecturer in Imperial College London’s Medical Humanities programmes. Learn more at www.kelleyswain.com Twitter: @thenakedmuse


Kaddish for Amy
by Joanne Limburg

Let us now magnify and sanctify the name of Him who made and warned us,
according to his Will,

who placed in us our soft or hardened hearts,
then blessed or punished us for what they made us do

who put an evil spirit into Saul, then gave a song to David
so he could drive the spirit out.

Let us bless and extol Him, exalt and praise Him,
who, beyond the reach of any song performable,
commands us still to sing.

(First published on Eyewear, 2011)

Joanne Limburg’s collections include Femenismo , Paraphernalia, the pamphlet The Oxygen Man and the children’s collection, Bookside Down. She has also published a memoir, The Woman Who Thought Too Much and has recently completed her first novel, Kindness.  Website: www.joannelimburg.net Twitter: @JoanneLimburg


Felling a Maiden
i.m. Maria Dimitri-Orthodoxou

by Maria Taylor

And what did she bring to the altar?
A dowry sack of vowels, a grinding toothache
of consonants. In a few inky moments
she would no longer be foreign or hard to spell.

She was not from round here, was torn
from fig and oleander, eucalyptus and sea,
though she didn’t speak with a faraway voice
or make lace with her grandmother’s needle.

After the wedding, I dismembered her.
I placed her in boxes, archived her into files
her atoms looped among cobwebs and dust,
under attic beams. A suburban oubliette.

I swallowed the heart whole. She was gone.
The silence was everywhere.

(First published in Melanchrini, by Maria Taylor, Nine Arches Press, 2012)

Maria Taylor’s first collection Melanchrini was published by Nine Arches Press and shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize in 2013. She blogs at http://miskinataylor.blogspot.co.uk/ and tweets @MariaTaylor_


by Jon Glover

Some form of stupidity its
asking and telling beyond
silly playthings alarmed, stiff blood
ring, ring, so squeeze this, game on,
it’s bodily fluids, had it
putty stops going on round,
I suppose it’s quite satisfied,
already memorial
to heart, or hearts, now holding glass
windows in place with tacks and
linseed thumbed in the frame all round
as if in a house wall as

Jon Glover’s last book with Carcanet was Glass is Elastic. He is the managing editor of Stand. He is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Bolton, and Honoroury Fellow of the School of English, University of Leeds. He is editing the Complete Poems of Jon Silkin. You can read an interview with Jon, about his life as a poet and editor here.

(All poets have given permission for their poems to be included on this site)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s