Elizabeth Smither

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Sa taille svelte de jeune fille

‘You’ve got it back. Sa taille svelte de jeune fille
the obstetrician said. The baby lay in her crib
swathed and hardly figuring.


The dress for leaving had been put on
the belt adjusted, the gloves and hat
(gloves and hat were worn that year).


Underneath the flesh felt soft and pupa-like
inside a chrysalis of stripes
black and white. The belt was red.


How did he know French and why practise it
on that occasion: a young mother leaving
the maternity ward, complete with triumph


and two kinds of flesh: her own
she would never again regard as svelte
and the new jeune fille in her basket.

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