I was born on the day my parents were married.


My mother wore a navy blue dress, and held

a little white posy.


My father wore a suit.

They took photos against the red brick of

my grandparents’ back wall.

Only the Monaghans and the celebrant attended,

my mother’s family live in India.

And I don’t think they could fit

any of dad’s friends.

It’s a pretty small garden.


After lunch,

the water broke.

And they rode to the nearby maternity hospital:

King Edward’s.

I imagine, anyway,

no one has ever really told me.


My parent’s are divorced –

not amicably –

so the day of their wedding is

no ones’ favourite topic.


I knew it wasn’t my fault,

no one had to tell me,

though they did.

But sometimes I pretended

that I thought it was,

because it was a neat narrative,

and because it made more sense

than my other feelings.


“If I hadn’t been born that day!”

I had just to say something like this

and my nonna

would tuck me in

and make me a milo.

Easy sympathy.


My mother did not have

sympathy for me

or anyone.

She was busy

feeling so sad

and angry.

Busy crying.

Busy feeling



My dad was busy

learning how to cook.

He learnt chicken pasta.

Which is pasta

And boiled chicken.


But we ate it.


I used to know

that it wasn’t my fault,

but I am older now,

and I know that it was,

at least incidentally.


I was born on the day that my parents were married.

If I had not been conceived,

I doubt an Australian man

would have flown

an Indian Tibetan woman of twenty-two

away from her family

and her life.

She was the baby.

She has never grown up.

I am a grown up.

I can accept it.


Words by Pema Monaghan, Art by Marney Anderson (@botticellibitch)

This poem first appeared in print volume 88 edition 4 GIRL