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Undersmile pic.jpg


is not a word you want

linked to your perineum


The stitches had unravelled

as quickly as my preconceived ideas

of motherhood

“I know it might seem bad”

says the old male consultant

“But it will close by itself

You should be fine”

I nod in silence

A week-old baby requiring my attention

My body

My energy

My sleep

“It’ll take a couple of weeks to seal”

he says, poking the inner edges

raw like tonsillitis in my under-carriage

“You need antibiotics for the infection”

I nod again

It’s hard to converse when you’re splayed

A week later I pluck up the courage to look

Angled mirror and propped foot

Red canyon as long as my first finger

An inch at its widest

Too deep to see its core

Sides feel serrated to touch

Or move

Or sit

Or lie

That teeth-filled hole from Star Wars

Is carved beneath me

An under-smile

Or under-scream

Depending on what angle you tip your head

Not that big a deal, he said

I see pictures of new mothers pushing prams

walking without grimace

and I know that I have failed

Floored by my open pelvic floor

Plagued by the notion

that this is my fault

Because I didn’t take fucking lavender baths


A sharp intake of breath

with the sting of water hitting a fresh papercut

under my arse

for every shower

Groundhog day

and I’m housing its burrow

Narrowing a little each week

Squeezing the hog


The hurt so great but

not obvious or

broadcast-able with modesty

Take a couple of weeks to seal, he said

It took fourteen

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