While you, gray clumsy duck, swim and dream
through my big bellied days
I am not idle. I twist and twist the thread
(What swanwings some mothers dream)
Await with dread your hatching into
this marsh of imperfections.
Sorrow enough to be a refugee--
How can I bring you forth? What prince,
with what brief day's skin-inclination
will cover, too, you (angles
and wet feathers, eager maw,
mad demanding eyes)
With the thin gloss of lust unsatisfied?
Unborn, already, your wings grow
twisted: uncovered they will outrage our eyes
like skin scraped off
and if you fly--
(poor bird, you will not fly)
I sit sewing tiny shirts to wrap you in
Nettles and thistles:
I will wrap you tenderly, in prickles.
I have been saving thorns my mother gave me
and thorns I sought out new.
For you, little bird,
Oh, I will prick scars in your new skin.
The spinning bites my fingers.
I do not stop twisting. The shirt is oddshaped,
I work, and wait. I know
this garment I make,
rashing my hands,
it cannot make you
(Sweet crooked bird)