We were on a train to Cork. She was seven.
It was cold and late. We had been on the train
for three hours. She was leafing through
my biology textbook as if all those inner regions
were works of fiction. She learned how to say
epiglottis and duodenum. Then she kneeled
on the seat to stare at her body in the black window,
her fingers tracing her frame, inhaling
so deeply to push that dome up and out,
and then pulling it in until she could grasp
the curved gate of her rib cage, as if she wanted
to open up her whole breast like a trapdoor to see
the base of her life. Then she looked at my face
so severely, Where does the baby go? she asked
I said it grows behind your tummy, in your womb.
She took it in as if something had been thrust to her.
I could sense it slowly entering her,
and for a moment I saw it all, the promise of her,
the light fibres being spun behind her tummy,
her hips as small as two fists pressed together,
reaching back into that unripe nest,
dripping like a torch in the rain.
When she was satisfied, she curled up on the seat
the way she does when she is tired, her arms
like a blanket, protecting what she did not know,
the train trembling on the outskirts of some city.