Mismothering

by Suzanna Fitzpatrick

Peak lambing. Scarcely time to clear the pens
for each new birth, and now two ewes
are both in labour. One is just ahead;
 
experienced, she drops the first of twins
without a sound. The other’s yet to break
her waters, but homes in on the bleat,
 
convinced the lamb is hers. I’ve heard of this;
try to deflect her gently, but she’s sure
she’s given birth. Her labour stalled, she’s pitched
 
into frenzy, calling constantly, her tongue
flailing; desperate to taste a lamb,
fuelled by a hunger I can’t bear to watch.
 
I leave her raving. Once she’s had her lambs
she’s satisfied; the madness gone,
the need forgotten, but still lingering.