The White Stork

A stork on your roof is a blessing from God. That’s what everyone says. We can see the edge of the nest above us from our bedroom window, a shadow of twigs watching over our sleep. Sometimes she calls to herself and it sounds like she’s firing machine guns out over Warsaw.


Izabella has started calling her “our stork”. She wants to name her St Anne – they’ve been learning about the saints at Sunday school and she knows that storks symbolise fertility. Józef’s mother didn’t waste any time imparting that little fact.

“Why don’t you like her, Mama?” she says. We’re looking up at the birds from the street and the stork is standing on top of her nest as though our house is a ship and she’s the look out.

“She’s loud and irritating,” I say, running my hands through Izabella’s tangle of red hair. Always full of questions, that one. “What’s it like to have a baby?” she asked me once.

“I don’t know,” I said truthfully. “It’s hard to describe. That’s why we have stories about storks.”

One day we’ll have to tell her why she’s the only one in the family with red hair. For now, I watch her skip into the house, making stork noises in the back of her throat.

This story was first published in Lighthouse, Gatehouse Press)

Photo by Rodrigo Rodriguez on Unsplash