Ode to Milk
Nurse a child for six years
to make him a wrestler, the Mongolians say,
their children still nursing at age four, even nine.
Engorged breasts proffered around the room
to the ailing and elderly.
Or perhaps milk expressed in a cup
and placed in the fridge
for a husband’s late night libation.
In the west, infants left to cry through to dawn.
Small bodies arch and twist
for what does not come,
craving an unnamed sustenance, suckling
Milk denied, milk refused.
Milk hot and hard in the chest.
Milk that is the body’s tender liquefaction
with hidden tributaries, sudden tides.
Milk that gushes, soaks, leaks and seeps.
Milk of pure tedium, marathon milk.
Milk of passion or appeasement.
Milk of long solitude, dusk and twilight.
Milk of dreams.
* * *
The author of two books of poetry, Fiona Tinwei Lam‘s work has also appeared in over fifteen anthologies.She is a co-editor of and contributor to the non-fiction anthology, Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood. She is currently editing The Bright Well, a collection of contemporary Canadian poetry about facing and surviving cancer coming out with Leaf Press this fall. She’s been a LCP member for over 10 years. www.fionalam.net
Thanks, Fiona, for a fine poem. A Neruda-like ode that Neruda couldn’t have written!
Beautiful, Fiona. I love the repetitions and the sounds. It brings back my own experiences breastfeeding a while back.