Edsel L at flickr.com
From Prairie Fire, Volume 29, No. 2 (Summer 2008).
They come from cow patties and God’s solar- powered kitchen, though we suspect the Holy Mother drops them into doctors’ bags along with wasp nests and rattlesnakes. Or the midwife will go up in a balloon to fetch a little squalling thing and bring it back to earth, swaddled in a tea towel. You can order a blue baby from the winter catalogue. Last Christmas Santa came ho ho ho-ing down a ladder and plunked them in all the empty birds’ nests. The colicky ones, well, we imagine they come from the ears of sows. Some curl inside the sticky buns you can buy in Chinatown. I know this because once I pulled apart the steaming dough and found a half formed baby sleeping in a gooey bed of jam. We don’t believe the rumours that say babies come from the torsos of many-breasted beasts. And we hope those human shapes growing inside the abandoned cars in Hagar’s Field are babies because what else could they be? They arrive wearing nothing but wool booties and brittle bats’ wings that snap off in the first frost. They can tread water and hold their breath longer than deep sea divers though we seriously doubt angels drop the wizened ones in puddles to plump them up like gooseberries. Once, I heard a baby mew all night in a cardboard box, but what happens to those loved briefly, then discarded, do they end up as firewood? This we know is true: the milkmen delivered one to the crazy woman on Broom Lane when her husband was at sea. We used to think the stork brought the babies but now only the gullible among us believe the frog writhing in the bird’s bill is a tiny human infant. My big-boned mother tells beautiful lies but she would never lie to us about the baby she dug out of the ground along with the potatoes, we who gather around her at the basement sink, light streaming through the little window. See how firmly she holds the squirmy thing under the tap to wash away the worms and bugs and clumps of dirt.