Sweetheart, I have fooled you again
telling you the empty emu egg
contains a tiny chick inside
We hollow a nest in the black bean bag
you sit, solemn faced, bare legs
crossed to keep in the warmth
You ask when your baby will be born
and I say it will take a little while
for feathers, a beating heart to form
and you sigh as if all your life
you knew this to be true
Time passes, you stand to check
your shell, finger the white dimpled
surface, smoothing your cheek over
the big circumference of egg
We talk of names; Malaya and Bim
and whether they will become dancers
or singers in whirly pink skirts,
whether to scatter breadcrumbs
in the woods or as night falls to
whisper a counting game to ten
The house is quiet as you sit upright
hands under your armpits, your wings
stiffened with these small hopes
And then it happens - the bean bag rustles
you rise, cupping hands as if in a dream
of china milk jugs and wedding gowns
and oh, how you almost convince
as you offer the sky your palms
See my chickens! See my chickens!
Published with permission of the author.
Christchurch writer Frankie McMillan's poetry collection Dressing for the Cannibals was released in 2009. Frankie has an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University, has published short stories and in 2009 won the New Zealand Poetry Society International Poetry Competition.
Many of the poems in Dressing for the Cannibals include slightly surreal elements, with wonderful titles like "Why my son lives in the sky", "Undressing my ancestors", "The piano learns to swim" and the title poem "Dressing for the cannibals". And yet, despite the touch of surrealism, the poems always manage to convince - something they share with both the narrator in this poem, and the young granddaughter who is perhaps not so much fooled, as in on the pretence.
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