I wrote ‘Water Baby’ to be a soul-bearing message in the aftermath of death, reflecting themes of loss, loneliness and secrets in Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem ‘I Am Too Alone In The World, And Not Alone Enough’. When re-drafting the poem I moved away from Rilke’s poem to some extent and, like Robert Bly’s translations, drew out the meaning to create my own interpretation.
Throughout the poem, I try to evoke an authentic voice of a grieving mother, whilst reflecting upon several techniques used by Rilke. Rilke repeats: ‘I want’ several times to voice the narrators’ own needs and desires.  Mirroring Rilke’s speaker, I used repetition too, but in a more desperate plea to reconnect with a dead child: ‘I want to feel / the warm milk of your smile’; a plea intensified through use of sensory language.
In writing this prayer-like poem, I read Rupi Kaur’s poetry. Though Kaur’s own plea of ‘I need you to / run your fingers / through my hair / and speak softly’ is in a different, more erotic context, I feel her words are resonant and they inspired me to write with emotional fervour.
James Wright personifies the sea in ‘At The Slackening of the Tide’, when the speaker hears ‘the sea far off / Washing its hands’, influencing my decision to personify the sea in ‘Water Baby’; the ocean is given ‘clamouring jaws’ and a ‘mouth’. I found Wright’s image of a dead child ‘floating in the oil’ very moving and the ocean in my poem was soon ‘awash with children’, symbolising the enormity of losing a child.
In writing the first stanza, I was intrigued by Jane Duran’s poem ‘Miscarriage’ and her description of the womb’s ‘particles of silk / wasted, perish’ and so I wrote about similar images of frailty, such as ‘lips hushed, lilac chilled’ to portray the physical fragility of the child in ‘Water Baby’.
 Rainer Maria Rilke, ‘I Am Too Alone In The World, And Not Alone Enough’ in Selected Poems, trans. by Robert Bly (New York: Harper and Row, 1981), p. 25
 Rupi Kaur, ‘The Loving’ in Milk and Honey (Missouri: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2015), p. 72
 James Wright, ‘At The Slackening of the Tide’ in Collected Poems, ed. by Anne Wright and Robert Bly (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2011), p. 63
 Wright, ‘At The Slackening of the Tide’ in Collected Poems, p. 62
 Jane Duran, ‘Miscarriage’ in The Poetry Cure, ed. by Julia Darling and Cynthia Fuller (Newcastle: Bloodaxe, 2005), p. 88
Later today (Wednesday 2nd October!) ‘Water Baby’ will be published on Porridge Magazine’s online platform. You will be able to read ‘Water Baby’ alongside another of Natalie’s poems, ‘Farm Talk’, on the Porridge Magazine website at https://porridgemagazine.com/