In Fatherhood, Poems

The Weight of the Baby

Marroning, Wellington Weir


I stay behind with the baby

while they check the baits—

my wife, my children. They are

that light skirting the shore.


My new son lounges in my arms,

staring at my face, which is

(like his own but less sweetly)

uneven with shadow and shine.


Gas hisses in the lamp’s gauze.

A sudden wind scours the weir

like a scoop net. Behind me,

the trees break out in tongues.


Sensing the soft grasp of sleep,

the child begins to struggle,

limbs erratic and ineffectual

as a marron marooned on its back.


‘Don’t be cross,’ I murmur,

hugging him, rocking him. ‘Hush.’

I am gentled from my gender,

staying back with the baby.


He settles and slips away.

His head becomes heavy,

like a melon, in the crook

of my arm. Light meshes


in his hair as if in a mantle.

Distant but distinct, I hear

my eldest son scoop and exclaim.

A scrabble of claws on wire.


The water is black but the sky

is spattered with stars.

I imagine the many rubies

of the marron’s torchlit eyes.


I watch my family, my loves,

move further into the darkness.

A mopoke cries from the forest.

I feel the weight of the baby.


I feel the weight but am light.

O Lord, my soul is very still,

quiet and still, even as an infant

asleep in his father’s arms.






He waves now without being told.

But what sense does he make of it,

my small son, when he sees me

drive daily out of his life? I blow

the horn, flash the lights and go.


What does he think? Does he feel it

as a desertion? A bewilderment?

Last night in my absence he told

his mother before going to sleep,

‘Daddy gone broom broom beep beep!






It is thrilling to be so loved.

Hearing my step on the veranda

he bellows to Mum that I’m home

and races to the door to greet me.


To be so loved. It is thrilling.

Seeing me he bursts into welcome,

with glad prattle, great prancing

and that sheer shine on his face!




The Grasshopper Heart


That man with the cowboy hat and tan and tattoos

is holding his little white-skinned daughter

very gently in the shallow water. Now he is

zooming her along, but not too quickly

for fear of her fear. He tosses her up,

catches and hugs her, holds in check

the fierce tenderness that craves to crush her.

Her father. His wholly holy love. He is smiling

and I know his heart is like a grasshopper—

leaping and landing spring-loaded to leap again.




These four poems are reprinted from Andrew Lansdown’s book, Gestures of Love: The Fatherhood Poems (Wombat Books, 2013). Learn more about Andrew’s poetry on a website dedicated to his literary writings,

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