The stork arrived alone one day,
beak sharpened like a bayonet.
All the love you’ve had turned bad! he sang,
eyes boring through the dingy nets.
He hopped onto the patio.
Good lord! Is this a rented flat?
Behind the shed, albino rats
were nuzzled on a family bed.
He hovered over them, wings spread.
Now this is how you do it! he said.
He speared a worm and sucked it down.
A rented flat, my god, he said.
Inside, I laid my hands around
my lump, my pumpkin-up-the-jumper.
I’d swapped the wine and cigarettes
for goji berries, spent the summer
asleep or stretched in yoga pose,
Utkatasana, Dhyana …
The stork came hopping round the corner
scraped his claw across the door —
Hello, hello? he called, polite,
then screamed I will not be ignored!
He had a bloody bone to pick,
an oozy piece of mind to share.
I was eight months gone by Halloween.
Kids rang the rented bell in sheets
and slime. I tried “maternal” out
with chocolate limes and fizzy sweets.
The bird shrieked half the witchy night:
For god’s sake, are you stupid? Teeth!
I waddled off to pack my case —
gorillas snoozing on the onesies,
pink booties, pads to catch the blood.
When they tugged that baby out of me
he came up laughing, blessed the midwife
with a fiery arc of golden pee
and through the skylight of the ward
I saw the stork retreat, zigzagging
up into the evening sky,
a fading squawk, the beat of wings.
Then they laid that baby on my chest
to feed, and cut the navel string —