Pauline Rowe

Modern Love

What once seemed such a natural thing
is out of fashion, everything
maternal’s subject to a trial
of wealth and wages, then denial;

the manufacture of an heir
is not an urgent need. To bear
a son remains a future dream
- first income, house and pension scheme.
The hustling of body clocks
no longer matches girlish frocks
unless you count the feckless poor
who procreate much as before;

the girls have babies, then the dads
move on to drugs, drink, other beds.
Aspirational females who
(may have an STD or two)
have intercourse upon demand –
will not conceive unless it’s planned.

The problem is a plan’s a plan
and cannot turn into a man
or child without the working parts
not hope, not trust, not bleeding hearts.

The body won’t, in spite of cash,
obey the will - you cannot stash
fertility for a future day,
the capacity can drift away.

You cannot make your bodies be
obedient, for each ovary
lives out its function, blithely failing.
Hear the thirty-somethings wailing.
When some decide to procreate
they can’t accept that it’s too late.
For decades they’ve had rituals
of sheaths and coils and caps and pills

not knowing if the prophylactics
were useful and effective tactics.
Imagine they were amulets
for fruitless bodies… all that sex

with barriers of every kind
of heart and body, love and mind.
Creaturely couples see GPs,
want IVF, or something please -
to make their busy lives complete
for this desire - so right, so sweet.

“The failure rate is very high,”
the doctor smiles. He has to try
to put them off. They say they’ll pay
so he refers them anyway.

“The take-home baby rate is low.”
They nod and nod – We know, we know.
They pay out thousands, try it twice,
the treatment cycle’s not that nice.
The woman’s hope stays in the clinic,
He becomes an expert, cynic.
He blames her, she blames herself.
They take divorce down from the shelf
and separate
and separate
their dreams have died. It’s far too late.

Pauline Rowe © 2007