The Stork

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 — 

More Poems by Hannah Lowe