Father, who art in Heaven,
I bought a derelict church
and converted the building in to
a battery farm. Every eight weeks,

a hatchery truck delivers me
blackbirds to feed – grow – slaughter.
I’m led into temptation, spend nights
smothered in feather-filled dreams.

I trespass, forget the heating in the barn
and beaks clutter the ventilation valves.
Deliver me now from Evil. Father, I spot
a black mark and cut my earlobe off

now my child’s cry sounds mono
in a faraway room. Someone has built
a wall of flesh between us. You can hear
much clearer once the pain dies down.

Nurses know which lie sounds better
at regular check-ups: Eat your fruit,
but I find baby teeth buried
in each apple. One bite, and seeds fall

on my breast, swell like a season.
My skin breaks out in black patches,
shoots sprout from my arms, seep out
the milk holding my bones together

with my flesh. Buds and twigs push
my ribs further apart. A child-tree grows
in my chest, claims its sliver of meat,
humming litanies to an adult-fruit.

Father they signed me up for research
and as soon as the paperwork passed
the Ethics Committee, they asked for
samples of tissue from my left eye.

Sacrifice my vision in the name of science,
check my womb for blackness but say black
only if you really mean it. Father, we all eat
pasta with mud and no-one complains that

the earth lacks seasoning. Yes, please, I need
another portion of this, sleep-walk
into the garden, repeat instructions
from qualified staff: Take a deep breath!
        Take a deep breath!


Maria Stadnicka

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