Postcards From Malthusia DAY SEVENTY-EIGHT: Marcas Mac an Tuairneir

Births, Deaths and Marriages

“We should have planned this sooner,”
she says,
turning the pages of
Perfect Wedding.
His head now raised,
the sunlight of a Spring-time Sunday,
illuminates her face.

In his arms,
the baby gurgles,
as if to respond to the mobile,
which blinks,
as if it’s urgent,
though inverted on the coffee table.

“Had you better get that?”
she asks.
He stares back, blankly.

Jabbing thumb on the remote,
she censors the BBC newsreader,
before the themetune’s thudding percussion,
might echo, ominous, around the room.

“It’s just Dad,”
he replies,
eyes trained on the new boy’s crown.
“He went out for a paper
when the name was released.”

in the Telegraph’s middle pages,
a journalist confirms
a six-week-old,
the youngest, here, to die.

The sex,
the exact day of the passing,
yet unclear,
it seems this statistic,
previously uncounted,
might just be tacked onto today’s.

He scans the paragraph for an
identity, but it remains
anonymous in the whitespace
between the lines of newsprint.
Privacy at this time
was the parents’ request.

“Did we register the birth?”
he asks,
folds the paper so the
rugger might be perused.

“Yes, of course, ”
she answers.
“The registrar came round,
but you had left the room.”



Mark Spencer Turner is an award-winning poet, playwright and singer-songwriter based in Edinburgh. He writes in Gaelic and in Irish as Marcas Mac an Tuairneir, as well as in English. His forthcoming third collection, the trilingual ‘Dùileach’ (‘Elemental’) is hotly anticipated from Evertype later this year. Check out his blog at


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