T H E   G I R L   W H O   G A V E   B I R T H   T O   R A B B I T S  ( S U R R E Y , 1 7 2 6 )

Mary Toft knew how it felt with child –
three birthed, one dead – but in the field,
heavy with her fourth, up starts a hare.
The effect is more than Mary can bear:
the rabbit all day long ran in my head.
That August, a large lump of flesh bled
from her body, and by October: rabbits,
litters of them, enough for every Cabinet
of Wonder in London.  But was it fair or fake?
Methought they there a burrow tried to make.
Mary, Mother Incarnate, carny
of the most marvelous yarn –
the rabbits all day long ran in my head –
snared hare, lapful of lapins bred
in her Welsh rarebit, follicular,
cuniculous, mad with rabbit fever,
rabid with fervor to birth, quaint
trickster, canny coney, cunning cunt.


Heidi Czerwiec is a poet and essayist who lives in Minneapolis. She is the editor of North Dakota Is Everywhere: An Anthology of Contemporary North Dakota Poets, and the author of the forthcoming collection Maternal Imagination.

H E I D I   C Z E R W I E C

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