Simon Lewis

Birthmark, Spilt Milk, & Butterfly

Simon Lewis

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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.

Spilt Milk

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.

Simon Lewis

Simon Lewis was the winner of the Hennessy Prize for Emerging Poetry and the runner up in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award in 2015. He has been published in many literary journals and magazines including The Stony Thursday, The Stinging Fly and Penny Dreadful. His first collection, Jewtown, was published in May 2016 by Doire Press.