When at last the authorities came / to lead away her children, she turns around and retreats "inward to the recesses of her mind." This woman doesn't care what happens to the children because she has lived in her own world for a long time, but nobody noticed. The neighbors saw her trash stack up, they smelled "the stench of fetid scraps" in her house, but they continued along their merry way, oblivious to what was happening. [30 lines]


Sarah Day, who teaches creative writing at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, is one of Tasmania's finest younger poets. This poem evokes the pain of child neglect caused by a mother's mental illness. As in the real life situation, the children are absent; in this case, taken away, as well as being absent from their mother's consciousness.

The poem also speaks to our ability to ignore what is happening around us. The neighbors, too, seem to have gone about their business in their own little worlds, while the children's mother gradually decompensated.

Primary Source



Penguin Australia

Place Published

Melbourne, Australia