the Waddington quins

died on delivery ~

their shared placenta

burned by local custom ~

their bodies sent to Dr Hunter

as medical specimens

pallid     flaccid     ghostly

water-babies hang in a tank


in solution

skin ridged like hands

left too long in bath water

liquor-steeped foetuses

with sightless eyes mere hooded slits

ribs protruding   wraith limbs dangling

a chorus

of stringless


wailing mouths gape

in soundless distress               waiting in vain to hear

their long-dead mother’s heartbeat

Clare Marsh

Clare Marsh, a Kent based international adoption social worker, was awarded M.A. Creative Writing from the University of Kent (2018) and was a Pushcart Prize nominee (2017). She won the 2020 Olga Sinclair Short Story Prize. Her work has been published in Lighthouse, Mslexia, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Acropolis, Places of Poetry, Pure Slush, Green Ink Poetry and Rebel Talk.

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