DAY SEVEN – Clare Pollard

Soft Play

I watched Edward Snowden tapping at his laptop
in a hotel, t-shirt over his head,
all his blood set ringing by a fire alarm test.
I shouldn’t post pictures of my son on Facebook
like I think I should.

It says no cameras or phones in soft play.

I bring my son to run free but obviously
be careful of that little girl and no, he
was in the ball-pool first.
Two older boys aim shots at my baby –
red, turquoise, yellow.
Pack creatures scent smallness and bring it down.
Nannies monitor me. Where are the authorities?
Did you know nurseries have CCTV
so mummies go online and watch at any time?

I gather intelligence by sniffing his bum.

I must change him.
I must do a lot of things now:
6am, bathtime, books about trucks,
moulding Play-Doh, restraining him for jabs –
I can’t leave him with chairs without surveillance.
He screamed like torture this morning when I tried
to move us from one small room to another.
I have to hold hard as he fits and lashes,
tries to brain himself against the bannister.
Here, at least, everything is padded.

My child crawls into the maze.

Simone Weil defines force as that x
that turns those subjected to it into things.
He refuses to be object, refuses to be wiped,
the meal I made for his own good.
Well, good.

I don’t think they like me at soft play anyway:
he has a cough and licked the slide
and I don’t wear Breton tops
and hey, they’re right to hate me,
sneering from behind my book of f___ing philosophy.
I’m a traitor, a spy, a threat to their security.

If Simone Weil lived now I would definitely RT.
Instead I watch myself say: please, say: mummy
doesn’t want to do this either but we have to
there are things that we just have to do.



Clare Pollard’s fourth collection of poetry, Changeling (Bloodaxe, 2011) is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, and her latest book is a new translation of Ovid’s Heroines (Bloodaxe, 2013). Clare lives in South London with her husband and son, and blogs regularly about life as a poet at

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