What the shaman’s child asked the anthropologist – Rebecca Gethin

What the shaman’s child asked the anthropologist

In your country do you have death?
Or is it only here
that the ones we belong with
become sick-spirited, then lifeless
and once they are planted
are never seen again
but talk to us through my father’s mouth?
We know who is speaking
because their voice sounds the same
the words, the tone,
telling us what to do.
Do you have death like ours –
where you can talk to them
and hear them but never feel their warmth.
Do you have need of healing plants
and are there python and leopard spirits
along the paths. You don’t seem to see them,
do you?


Rebecca Gethin has written 5 poetry publications and is a Hawthornden Fellow. Messages was a winner in the Coast to Coast to Coast pamphlet competition.  Vanishings is forthcoming from Palewell Press and she will run a short course for Poetry School.

Waiting outside the gynae-oncology ward during the Olympics – Rebecca Gethin

Waiting outside the gynae-oncology ward during the Olympics

In Rio, it’s women’s beach volleyball. Beside me,
a woman is wearing a gown and white compression socks.

The athletes in Rio have tiny shorts and bikini tops.
We nod to one another. A man is glued to the women

in Rio as if interested in who wins and loses.
He’s here because I’m scared, she mutters.

We flick through our mobiles – no signal. In Rio,
bodies are lithe, feet and toes bare on the sand. Upstairs

they’re in scrubs while we stare at the match in Rio
without any understanding of the rules.


Rebecca Gethin:  All the Time in the World (Cinnamon Press) and A Sprig of Rowan (Three Drops Press) were both published in 2017. An earlier collection and two novels were published by Cinnamon.  She runs the Poetry School’s monthly seminars in Plymouth, has been a Hawthornden Fellow and her website is www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com