When the nurse pointed
at the dark brown birthmark
covering your left elbow
as you writhed on the scale,
she said we could get it removed
then wrapped you in towels.
The fortune tellers of Thailand
would have told me you’d grow
to be a scholar, predict a career
as a diplomat, marry you off
to a lady of savvy, discretion, charm.
The Indians, more sceptical,
grant you misfortune with money,
and the Spanish would blame
your mother and her unfulfilled wishes.
I stared at the red and white flecks
on your head as you screamed
at a world already condemning you
on a random clustering of pigment.
In time, the birthmark will be yours:
wear it like a medal.
You jolted your body rigid, grunting
pulsing with every arrhythmic jerk
until the vomit spewed out your mouth
splashing onto your bib, jumpsuit, socks
and all over the new sofa and cushions,
onto my pyjama bottoms and to the floor
where the curdled whiteness spread,
thinning into a custard-puddle of milk
and in the rabble of rushing for towels,
the anticipation of a second act,
there was nothing else to think about
except trying to stop you crying over it.
When you emerged from a little egg,
you squirmed around your liquid house.
I caught flitting glimpses of you spread,
twisting and crawling in the darkness,
like an alabaster gut-sliding caterpillar,
your heartbeat rumbling. I saw you change
as you grew on the printed thermal paper
from sweetpea-size to plum to orange,
until you ran out of room. It was time
to leave the cocoon. When the doctor
dangled you, flapping like a butterfly
and rested you on your mother’s heart,
I could see you were a doppelganger
of me, squealing, squinting, all in a flutter.