Richard Thomas’s ‘Zygote Poems’, to begin with, is one wonderful book for parents (have been) and parents-to-be — and for their children, once they’ve grown up. It took me some time to realise this: I’ve been informally studying children for over a year and a half now, and I believe it is quite trying caring for exactly the same whims of the same child (I’ve observed how consequences become ‘pesky’) — after all, those acts of innocence become ‘whims’ after a while — unless you’re a parent to them.
The voice that is initially a cackle later becomes partly, if not wholly, cruel — for a lot of ‘busy’ people, unless YOU are a parent. Which is why, also, as is common, a pregnant woman is beautiful — is adored — and a baby-birth is beautiful too, but anybody hardly ever comes to see a mother with a dirty nappy and a nipple; — because all the fun fades after a while.
But what Richard works on is a father’s take on his daughter’s birth (/nappy) — and her growing up (from the nappy!) Her pronouncing the words that are tough for her, and her crawling, and then walking.
“At Twehn-tee Wohn and Twehn-tee Ate / […] / it goes dozing for Forhteen hours, / […] / with all of its Innch of softest hair, / […] / making its tracks into the wild.”
Apparently, it all begins with the very first poem in the book, titled ‘Zygote Poem’. It’s a humorous little collection of only over four dozen pages, with poems titled ‘@#&Wx3’, ‘Tu Rooms’ — Pt. Wonn & Pt. Tu, ‘Furhst Burhfdae Sohnnit’ and such. Richard Thomas has had a mother’s eye on his daughter all the while that she grew up, to write these conveniently elegant poems.
“I was Roald / Amundsen / of the vital / pregnant / quest.”
Zygote Poems is a smart collection travelling around the growth of a wonderful baby, with all her British accent. Richard has a strength for organising his poems in a beautifully trailing manner, for there’s also this quite amazing asterisk-y thing about these poems, where he marks a word (or two) in certain poems with an asterisk and which later show up in the last poem of this book. — this you understand only when there’s this little bo*k on your shelf, read.
“O’ sun that ripens its fiery cords
beyond the cotton-thick, milk-heavy haze:
the landlord has done a family out of a home,
boo on them, those bog-horned brats,
and sun shine on, shine all over with heart.”
Zygote Poems, by Richard Thomas