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  1. BOOK REVIEW: A Gift From Brittany: A Memoir of Love and Loss in the French Countryside by Marjorie Price Kate Forsyth 15-Dec-2017
  2. BOOK REVIEW: Inspector Morse: Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter Kate Forsyth 13-Dec-2017
  3. BOOK REVIEW: Le Chateau by Sarah Ridout Kate Forsyth 09-Dec-2017

WORK IN PROGRESS

A fairy-tale infused historical novel for adults set in the late 18 th century, moving between Imperial China and France during the ‘Terror’ of the French Revolution, and inspired by the true story of a quest for a blood-red rose.

The novel will draw upon ‘The Blue Rose,’ a fairy tale set in China about a quest for an impossible rose.

Motherhood

My son Benjamin was born on the fifth of May, 1998 and a month later, on the third of June, I turned 32. On that day I rang my own mother and said to her, with the hot constriction of tears in my throat, 'I just wanted to say thank-you ... and I'm sorry!' I didn't need to explain to her what I meant. We both knew that long, dark, bloody journey into motherhood changes something in you forever. One's whole existence is stretched, encompassing an uncharted territory of love that is so intense it is akin to sorrow.

Not to suggest that fathers do not feel a deep, abiding love for their children too, for I know that they do. But the very physicality of motherhood – the carrying of a child within you for nine long months, the knowledge that its heart and brain and guts are growing in the subsoil of your own body, the inevitable pain thundering closer, the fear that underscores the bright hope, the final ordeal of fire, the first exultant meeting, the blind instinctive seeking of your baby's mouth for your hot and swollen breast, the tug of that connection deep within your womb – these are things only mothers can know.

I don't know what fatherhood means to men. How could I? I know it can be a profound and powerful experience. I know it changes a man's life in as many different ways that it changes a woman's. The map of parenthood contains tall peaks of joy and fulfillment, dark pits of exhaustion, thorny thickets of rage and exasperation, and long dreary plains when it seems parenthood is nothing but feeding the mouth that bites you.

I do know my children need the love and tenderness of their father as much as they need mine, and that he gives them things I cannot. My husband is the one that keeps our boys in peals of laughter, the one that tickles and teases, throws them in the air and catches them, chases them down the hall, and carries them on his shoulders. I'm the one they come to when they're in tears, when they're hurt or hungry or tired. Where my husband's shoulder is broad and strong, mine is soft and warm. Is this a universal truth or particular to my own little universe? I don't know. I'm just glad that he and I and our two sons are charting this wilderness together, learning from and teaching each other, and pushing out the known boundaries of ourselves.

Kate Forsyth is a poet, journalist and novelist as well as the mother of two beautiful boys called Benjamin and Timothy. Her latest book, 'The Starthorn Tree', has just been released.

JOY

Deep within my dark ocean
you drift
anchored only by this frail blue coil
pulsing with my lifeblood
binding us closer than any chain
prisoners each to each other
fettered as close as moon and tides

Deep within my dark ocean
you dream
my white sea-anemone
my brittle-star

And this starless sea
which cradles you
is the ocean in which I’ll drown
the relentless rhythm of pain
dragging me down
ever closer to death

Snug within my crimson soil
you burrow
unfurling tiny transparent limbs
budding eyes veiled with skin
sprouting a heart and organs,
tightly folded petals, languidly
blossoming forth

Snug within my crimson soil
you grow
my white lotus-bud
my mandrake root

And this tender soil
you drove your taproot through
is my own flesh, my body.
From this clay you’ll be torn shrieking,
dragging you up
ever closer to life

Yet gladly I rock you
upon my inner sea,
gladly I surrender
to these supple tendrils
coiling green about my heart.
Oh, my white child,
my valiant joy.

© Kate Humphrey
Published in Belly: A Birthing Journal, 2001