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POETRY / Empty Belly Recurrence / Oak Ayling

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In the dream I am pregnant 

And it is like when a dog dies
So the body is no longer a dog
Though it looks like one

Almost without exception this is how it goes

There are witnesses
To the labour
Expectation of limbs
Of life

And fear, snake-like, coils
What if there is nothing inside?
Suddenly I cannot remember the touch of a man 

The birthing pool is empty
My swollen vessel is a balloon
Where no one lives

The audience reels at my nakedness
Watch silent as I gather up my shame, pad silently
Out of the ward; run when I hit the exit sign 

And how does it end? 

I get trapped on a bus
It’s headed for my hometown
And I know there’ll be no hiding what’s happened.


Oak Ayling is an English poet living on the windswept border between Cornwall and Devon. Highly commended by Indigo Press in the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize, her work can be found in Anti Heroin Chic Magazine, the fast growing lit mag From Whispers to Roars and forthcoming charitable anthology ‘Shorthand’ by author Helen Cox in support of UK homeless charity Streetlink.