New Beginnings

Steph Amir

My son; my flesh and blood –
except he’s not. He was
Created from a stranger:
a man’s lineage frozen
at minus-196 degrees
for five years,
waiting for life
or failure.
Created by my friend
plunging needles
into my abdomen
until my body and brain
felt poisoned
and more.
Created by a doctor, repeating
repeating, the same procedures
while her desperate patients
hope that
this day
this day
will be an extraordinary day.
Created by kindly lab technicians,
sending hopeful email updates
and from ten embryos
selecting the one that will become
my son.
Created by my partner
from weat-bix and thickshakes,
iron and calcium sucked
from her blood and bone;
drawing life
from her body and mind
to create another.
And from a single cell of mine:
DNA from stoic and restless
doctors and farmers
once-young folk who
rode motorbikes
cooked honey cake
sang at the local pub
and never heard of
reciprocal in vitro fertilisation
or on-donation of embryos.
In a frenzy
I interrogate strangers:
what does it mean to
parent a baby you didn’t create, or
create a baby you won’t parent?
My son
flings puréed sweet potato
around the room
and gleefully announces
How can I divide
infinite love
subjective identity and
contested meaning
by the denominators of
sleepless nights
milky cuddles
toothless grins
half a genome
fourteen-thousand dollars
a birth certificate and
family stories of that time when…
Now that babies can be created
with precise chemical methodologies
what is the formula
to create a parent?
Which path will lead to
the happiest of new lives?
My nine embryos remain
five days old
for up to ten years
until their futures are
signed and
by their forever-parents
unknown beginnings

Steph Amir has a background in public policy and research, including as a local politician. She is a current Writers Victoria Writeability Fellow – a fellowship for writers with disabilities. Her creative work has been published in Archer, Babyteeth, Bent Street, Echidna Tracks, Ghost Girls (upcoming), n-Scribe, Phantom Kangaroo (upcoming), Writing Place, and the Melbourne City of Literature’s UNESCO postcard series. She volunteers as a future scene writer and editor for the Future Problem Solving Program. Steph lives in Melbourne with her partner and two young children.


%d bloggers like this: