Once upon a time a woman gave birth to a bird.
Neither mother nor midwife batted an eyelid: the birth was straightforward, the
bird-child had the creased pink skin of any other bantling.
The woman raised it as one of her own, despite the wing stumps in place of arms,
the claws where there should have been toes.
When it was two months old the bird became covered in white fluff.
When it was six months old the bird sprouted feathers, these grew to be grey-black
chiffon feathers, specked with white dots.
The bird was a guinea fowl.
Only at this point did the woman’s husband acknowledge the child’s abnormality.
He accused his wife of participating in coitus with a bird.
Outraged that an avian rival usurp his position, he killed the bird-offspring.
He wrung its neck, plucked it still warm and hung it for a week above the front door
that no other male challenge his virility.
For these seven days the woman wore black and did not speak.
On day seven he eviscerated the bird, made a stock of its neck, heart and gizzard.
The woman cursed her doubting husband with all her might.
He stuffed the bird with its own liver and roasted it in its own juices.
The smell of pot roast guinea fowl filled the house, causing the woman to flee.
He fed the braised bird to his five other non-bird children.
Elsewhere a guinea fowl hen hatched out an infant.
She raised the infant as one of her own.
The child lives with the birds to this day. Naked. Featherless. At dusk, the child-bird
crows like a guinea fowl.