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in 1726 Mary Toft began birthing

rabbits or rather rabbit parts, floppy

pink torsos and little bald legs,

sharp nails intact. Mary miscarried

her fetus, story says, chasing after a rabbit,

her ensuing fascination so strong that

rabbits too started slipping from her

in half-dreamed pieces. now

it’s assumed her husband helped

put the dead rabbit pieces inside her,

where she would hold them for weeks

and weeks at a time. seventeen leporine

miracles. ten royal surgeons peering

into her mystery. the whole country

burrowing. she is whisked away

to a bathhouse outside London

for observation. now it’s assumed

Mary first miscarried because peasants

were forced to till the hop fields

all pregnancy long. Mary at rest

only in labor. Mary half-expecting

the kits to nuzzle their way out alive.

three human babies wailing for her

back home, their horrible faces the same

color as the insides of their mouths.

Mary who cannot choose where to pin

the life her body conjures. this is

a prayer for every body bearing

against its will: may what lives

dart free of you, off into the field.


PERRY LEVITCH'S poetry can be found in the Columbia Review, pigeon pages, the Rappahannock Review, hooligan mag, and more. They are a Pushcart Prize nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. They have an MFA from NYU, where they were a poetry editor of Washington Square Review.


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