By Liz Niven

Afore the sickness,
fir twentie thrie weeks,
the wean in the womb grew an thrived,
gently movin aroon its sweet cocoon.

Durin the sickness,
the wean birled tapsalteerie, heelstergoudie,
ower an ower, hour efter hour, throu the lang bokin day. 

Efter the sickness,
aw wis schtum.
A deid dearth o oniethin. Nae a twinge,
or a wee heid hard agin the womb’s wa,
or a knee jaggin unner a rib. 

An oan the third day
efter the wean wis taen,
the milk cam in. Fast an lush an corpse-white.
Wi thon milky mither smell kent ower the earth,
by man, wumman an beast. 

Then neist a hardness,
rock-like breists.
Heavy lik a stane or a mither’s hairt,
whaes lost a bairn. 

Naethin tae nourish.
The natural wey o things haltit. 

An she seen weans in desert places,
mithers wi nae milk fir bairns.
An she wantit, grievit,
tae nourish somethin.