Down the Rabbit Hole
Yesterday Mary wanted rabbit stew. The day before roast rabbit. All this after seeing the rabbits in the field and the garden. She dreamed of rabbits, of holding them in her arms and at her breast. Rabbits, rabbits, rabbits.
of miraculous births. At least 17. Wondrous strange.
She chased the rabbit across the field and the next morning she was ill, feverish and swollen. She had miscarried two months prior, but here she laid, belly full. They called the male-midwife when she went into labor.
First rabbit was a liver only.
Second rabbit was no rabbit but the legs of a cat.
Third rabbit through rabbit twelve. Tidy little bunny bodies, slick and small and dead.
John Howard wrote letters to London. Dear Sirs, in your Goodness and Wisdom please advise on a Problem of great concern and Wonder.
Five more rabbits still to go.
They called in the king’s doctor and even then, she produced more rabbits. Eyes shut, paws tucked neatly beneath their bodies.
Upon scientific examination of the rabbit parts – they placed a rabbit lung in water and it floated. They pronounced it conclusive evidence of honesty. Conclusive evidence of “maternal impressions.” A pregnant woman’s experiences are directly imprinted on her unborn child. A woman in a certain condition must only expose herself to pleasant experiences.
It was pleasant sitting in the garden watching the rabbits play, reaching out to catch them, and folding their silky ears between my fingers. Sometimes, I unbuttoned the top of my dress and held them to me, nestled against my skin.
The rabbits said hurrah to the world, furry pawed waiting, inside Mary Tofts.
O! warm and lovely womb, that slippery push into
The first one, well I wet it so it would slide in, nice and quick like. Those babies, they are quite small. They were already dead so I didn’t worry about their claws.
and then out of
Every creature in town, both men and women, have been to see and feel her: the perpetual emotions, noises and rumblings in her Belly are something prodigious; all the eminent physicians, surgeons and man-midwives in London are there Day and Night to watch her next production.
Producing, as if she were a machine, a factory, some sort of reproductive spectacle. One more rabbit after the other, fur slicked to the skin.
Tofts was forced to admit on December 7, 1726, on threat of a famous London physician to examine her uterus, that she had manually inserted dead rabbits into her vagina and then allowed them to be removed as if she were giving birth. She explained that she had simply inserted the dead rabbits inside her womb when no one was looking.
All it took was one little push and then another and there they were nestled inside. Some I had to cut, to trim off a leg or a tail. Perhaps I only used the head. I would have liked to have put them in alive, if I could.