Tuesday Poem: ‘Stone Baby’ by Tim Jones

Stone Baby

There now, baby, up we come
Come up and let me
rearrange your limbs

again. I’ll put you to my breast
my shoulder
in your swaddling cloth of blue

Dear baby, now it’s time for bed
Don’t fret, your toys will
gather round your perfect head

and lull you with their
song that never changes
from sun to moon to sun.

Lie still, baby. All is well.
Outside, the atmosphere
is frozen to the ground

and when we sleep, we’ll sleep
like kings, not waking till
our stone is flesh again.

When I was in Auckland a few weeks ago, I visited Jason Books, which is a great second-hand bookstore in central Auckland. In the store I was happy to find a copy of Boat People, a collection of poems by Tuesday poet, Tim Jones, that was published in 2002. “Stone Baby” is from this collection, and I wanted to feature the poem as a Tuesday Poem because of the way it deals with ambiguity. For me, the poem can either be read as one about miscarriage, or one about a person’s continued hope and optimism for conception. It takes skill to walk the line between the two.

Tim Jones is a poet and author of both science fiction and literary fiction who was awarded the NZSA Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature in 2010. He lives in Wellington. His third poetry collection, Men Briefly Explained. His short story “The New Neighbours” has been included in the recently-published anthology The Apex Book of World SF 2  For more on Tim and his writing, please see his blog Books in the Trees.

For other rocking Tuesday Poems check out the hub.

5 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem: ‘Stone Baby’ by Tim Jones

  1. I actually took this quite literally, as a fantasy about people turned to stone, which makes for an interesting contrast with the warmth of the language. Tim Jones does a good line in ambiguity, as you say, Sarah, even if we interpret the poem quite differently.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Penelope and Helen.

    The dismaying truth is that, so long after writing it, I am not sure what if anything this poem ‘means’! But from distant memory I think that the scenario was a fantasy/sf one of a frozen people on a frozen planet – to which other meanings can accrue.

    1. Thanks, Tim. It’s really interesting how we bring our own personal histories to poems. For me, since I’m a new mother, I read the poem as an extended metaphor for motherhood. For other people it is something totally different.

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