.............................................. ...............................................

Infanticide

by Dave Riley

Today's report of a dead baby in a bag " only 2 days old" reminds me of a poem written by Bertolt Brecht in 1920.

on the infanticide marie farrar

1
marie farrar: month of birth, april
an orphaned minor; rickets; birthmarks, none; previously
of good character, admits that she did kill
her child as follows here in summary.
she visited a woman in a basement
during her second month, so she reported
and there was given two injections
which, though they hurt, did not abort it.
but you i beg, make not your anger manifest
for all that lives needs help from all the rest.
2
but nonetheless, she says, she paid the bill
as was arranged, then bought herself a corset
and drank neat spirit, peppered it as well
but that just made her vomit and disgorge it.
her belly now was noticeably swollen

and ached when she washed up the plates.
she says that she had not finished growing.
she prayed to mary, and her hopes were great.
you too i beg, make not your anger manifest
for all that lives needs help from all the rest.
3
her prayers, however, seemed to be no good.
she'd asked too much. her belly swelled. at mass
she started to feel dizzy and she would
kneel in a cold sweat before the cross.
still she contrived to kee her true state hidden
until the hour of the birth itself was on her
being so plain that no one could imagine
that any man would ever want to tempt her.
but you i beg, make not your anger manifest
for all that lives needs help from all the rest.
4
she says that on the morning of that day
while she was scrubbing stairs, something came clawing
into her guts. it shook her once and went away.
she managed to conceal her pain and keep from crying.
as she, throughout the day, hung up the washing
she racked her brain, then realised in fright
she was going to give birth. at once a crushing
weight grabbed at her heart. she didn't go upstairs till night.
and yet i beg, make not your anger manifest
for all that lives needs help from all the rest.
5
but just as she lay down they fetched her back again:
fresh snow had fallen, and it must be swept.
that was a long day. she worked till after ten.
she could not give birth in peace till the household slept.
and then she bore, so she reports, a son.
the son was like the son of any mother.
but she was not like other mothers are - but then
there are no valid grounds why i should mock her.
you too i beg, make not your anger manifest
for all that lives needs help from all the rest.
6
so let her finish now and end her tale
about what happened to the son she bore
(she says there's nothing she will not reveal)
so men may see what i am and you are.
she'd just climbed into bed, she says, when nausea
seized her. never knowing what should happen till
it did, she struggled with herself to hush her
cries, and forced them down. the room was still.
and you i beg, make not your anger manifest
for all that lives needs help from all the rest.
7
the bedroom was ice cold, so she called on
her last remaining strength and dragged her-
self out to the privy and there, near dawn
unceremoniously, she was delivered

(exactly when, she doesn't know). then she
now totally confused, she says, half frozen
and found that she could scarcely hold the child
for the servants' privy lets in the heavy snows.
and you i beg, make not your anger manifest
for all that lives needs help from all the rest.
8
between the servants' privy and her bed (she says
that nothing happended until then), the child
began to cry, which vexed her so, she says
she beat it with her fists, hammering blind and wild
without a pause until the child was quiet, she says.
she took the baby's body into bed
and held it for the rest of the night, she says
then in the morning hid it in the laundry shed.
but you i beg, make not your anger manifest
for all that lives needs help from all the rest.
9
marie farrah: month of birth, april
died in the meissen penitentiary
an unwed mother, judged by the law, she will
show you how all that lives, lives frailly.
you who bear your sons in laundered linen sheets
and call your pregnancies a `blessed'state
should never damn the outcast and the weak:
her sin was heavy, but her suffering great.
therefore, i beg, make not your anger manifest
for all that lives needs help form all the rest.

0 Com:

Post a Comment