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Six-week Check

Emma Storr, GP

I wake you. Unpeel your clothes

to hold you naked in my hands.

You look surprised at being new.

I murmur nonsense while I note

your symmetry and serious gaze,

the texture, tone and feel of you.

Your brain is heavy, busy growing

like a walnut in its shell.

Your fontanelles are soft to touch.

I auscultate your rapid heart,

impatient, tapping at your ribs.

You startle in expected ways,

fling your arms, reflexes brisk.

You turn to noise. Each orifice

is present, patent, hard at work.

I hand you back to anxious arms,

catch your baked cub-like scent.

I circle ‘normal’ on my list.

You yawn and fall back into dreams,

unaware you’ve passed my tests.

We won’t need to meet again.


I am delighted that two of my poems Six Week Check and Repeat Prescription were chosen to appear in the NHS poetry anthology These are the Hands. Both poems are in my pamphlet Heart Murmur that was published in 2019 by Calder Valley Poetry, based partly on my work as a GP. Six Week Check is a celebration of the miracle of birth and the perfect workings of the body in a new baby. Doing this routine examination was one of my favourite tasks as a GP.

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