Milk

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Last night, a baby cried

outside my window and I knew

I should be holding it.

I was pretty sure

she was talking to me, my own baby

a thousand miles away,

grown hazy, not as clear

as the music from the courtyard.

I brought the hand pump

in my backpack and it took all day

to draw an ounce.

My baby and I are near the end.

It’s no one’s fault—each day

I have less to give,

less milk, I mean.

There’s a magnet in me—

it’s just a metaphor, so it’s OK

that the pull is stronger

over distance. Let me return

to that baby in the courtyard,

to its terrible music

and how I wanted to go

to her, give to her.

And I cried a little, the way

mothers cry, and catch it,

and place it in smallest mouths,

so this morning there was a glass of it,

of milk—what the body repels

as it pulls the other to us.

The world is dense with hunger.

Sometimes I have to pull his fist

from my baby’s mouth

just to feed him,

and I am mindful that hunger for some

is a fist that never stops

being a fist. What I’m trying to say

is I couldn’t dump that milk.

For the baby in the courtyard,

for my baby, for all

the babies, I drank it down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Wade Kelly

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About Author

Karen Craigo teaches English to international students at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. Her work has appeared in the journals Poetry, Indiana Review, Prairie Schooner, Puerto del Sol, The MacGuffin, and others. Her chapbook, Stone for an Eye, is part of the Wick Poetry Series.

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