The head of the household

is a girl of thirteen
and her children are many.

Left-overs, moulting gulls,
wet unweaned sacks

she carries them under her arms
and on her back

though some must walk beside her
bearing their own bones and mash

when not on the floor
in sickness and distress

rolled up in rows
facing the open stall.

Moon and bone-cold stars
navigational spoor

for ambulance, hearse,
the delivery vans

that will fetch and dispatch
the homeless, motherless

unclean and dead
and a girl of thirteen,

children in her arms,
house balanced on her head.