I started writing Egg Case when I found a dried-out common whelk egg case on Sandeels Beach on Iona – not that I knew what this desiccated husk was, but I was fascinated and pocketed it. This was summer 2018 when I faced further surgery to remove my ovaries and Fallopian tubes, a procedure initially planned as a risk-reducing measure (given my family history of cancer), but more urgent when pre-surgery checks revealed an ovarian cyst that needed to come out.
I found the egg case sparked a rich variety of connections. I birthed a knotty lump of secrets and miscommunications, family secrets, the guilt of mothers and daughters onto the pages of my notebook. Egg Case is a very personal piece, albeit (as always) lightly fictionalised. It draws on the story of how my mother took diethystilb(o)estrol (DES) in good faith to prevent miscarriage, which left us both with a whole series of unforseen complications and consequences.
Hopefully you’ll find some belly laughs, too.
In Sweet Anaesthetist, Egg Case sits at the end of the collection, glossing and throwing additional light onto some of the earlier poems. But it was always intended to stand alone. It’s a bit long for most readings, so I’m delighted to share it in Iambapoet. I’m hugely grateful to Iambapoet’s editor and curator, Mark Anthony Owen, for his work in bringing this (relatively long) piece to your ears.