She must have been somewhere else
when they cut her open, hauled the baby out
and tried to zip her up like an empty bag.
She must have been waiting for a bus,
or playing lawn tennis, she must have been
Atargis the mermaid goddess at the boating lake.
That night, cries rose from her half-closed wound
and they watched her temperature soar –
mapping it on a chart like the lunatic flight of a moth.
She awoke as a rock in a fast-moving river.
There was no child, no tiny warmth.
There were voices and hands, all of them hollow.

Poet's Note: This poem will appear in the collection Waiting for Bluebeard, to be published by Bloodaxe Books in 2013.