Craig Raine in the delivery room


This child emerges slowly
like a raisin from a dead man's mouth,

wailing like a banshee on hot bricks.
The attendants stiffen

like hatstands. Their rubber gloves
stick to their hands like cellophane

on a long-lost lollipop.
The umbilical cord, a twist of pink liquorice,

is snipped by the haberdasher's scissors.
My tears are hailstones

hitting the instrument tray like stray silver bullets.
In the distance, my wife

wraps the baby to her like lambswool
discovered in a forgotten bottom drawer.

This child is still sticky:
it has swum five Channels, fully greased.

From Send-Up