Mother’s Ink

somewhere in the pre-history of ink is reproduction

– Caitríona O’Reilly

Born I was, and wasn’t.
She drew breath from the breath she’d lost
to phantom explosions inside her.
Three days, three nights, all breaths
and no food or sleep.

What other mothers had done she did,
re-staging the contractions until my departure.
I saw what she saw:
a cloud of messy flesh waiting at the gate
redder than ink.

The hard plastic on the suction cap.
My misshapen head.
What she remembered I remembered.
A cloudless day at 3 p.m.
and no ink was spilled as she kept herself to herself.

Now and then words escaped from her
bleached hands.
She knew I wanted ink greedily.
She fed it to me, dark milk diluted with water
that, when it touched a page, spread.

She knew it came from the clouds
hiding the teargas and bullets.
She only wanted good ink for me but feared what it meant.
I wanted just ink for her.
I wanted ink more than her.

From The Ink Cloud Reader. Reproduced with kind permission of Carcanet Press.

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