The Newborn 
ko ko thett

Were she a calf
she would already be standing
on four wobbly legs,
nosing around for mammary glands.

She is only human.
And humans are born—
utterly unprepared.

The extra-soft spot on her skull
is extraordinarily soft it will absorb
the shock of a three-pound burden.

She will clench
in her tiny fists everything she gets hold of.
More often than not
she holds nothing, and nothingness.

Scoffing at the malnourished world
she is starving every two to three hours.

My shadow over her doesn’t spook her.
The newborn shoots right into my eyes
a void of a stare.

Only newborns can pull off
with confidence
that unblinking gaze of death. 

She hasn’t learned to smile,
schmooze, laugh or bluff, but she will.

For now, if she whispers into my ear––

I am going to assassinate the President,

I am sure she will.

ko ko thett is a Burma-born poet, literary translator, and poetry editor for Mekong Review (2017–2022). thett has published and edited several collections of poetry and translations in both Burmese and English. His poems are widely translated and anthologised. His translation work has been recognised with an English PEN Translates Award. thett’s most recent poetry collection is Bamboophobia (Zephyr Press, 2022). He lives in Norwich, UK.


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