Two Uses for Young Rabbit
Inspired by the case of Mary Toft (c. 1703–1763), the rabbit breeder of Godalming.
She could conjure rabbits from between her legs,
little dead things, leaping in her till the last.
Pliny tells us they were delicacies,
plucked from insides or from teat, left uneviscerated.
A bunny-pilfering husband kept her cervix fed
with neonatal morsels from the butcher’s block.
On fast days medieval monks consumed their flesh,
deemed fish by virtue of the amniotic sac.
Monstrosities from women’s wombs: the sooterkin,
Alcippa’s elephant—maternal imprinting made manifest.
The recipes call for cinnamon, sweet wine and capon
as per Rumpolt’s gastronomic treatise.
Autonomy’s a slippery thing, its Queen Anne’s Lace,
its pudding grass and crochet hook,
its hands of Chamberlen, its bold-with-blade
and elbows deep in women’s work.
There must be pockets in the outfit,
hands suddenly like tools received
for Father’s Day—still shop-sharp
in the shed, dangling aimlessly.
Accustomed to being held
at a forty-five degree angle
and the tingle of their wheeled extension
rumbling mole-like over asphalt,
pavement, artificial marble
of the local mall—our three-mile loop
past window after window
as you battle sleep.
The prick of milk, the twitch
of phantom umbrella-folding limb.
Like learning to walk propless, upright,
a minor evolution.