A Poem of Grief

For mothers sending children into the world

A mother’s milk doesn’t trickle in

in the hours after her newborn slips

or tears

out of her body.

Her breasts don’t fill slowly to meet the need.

Her infant’s suckle does not call forth

A gentle swelling.


The filling is sudden,

an explosion of heat and electricity.

She is standing in the shower

in the few moments that have been hers since she became

someone else’s mother,

and in a rush of pulsing suddenness, milk is dripping from her nipples,

mingling with the water from her shower

and slipping down her still-swollen belly.

Shocking ache and need spread with heat

and she marvels as she hastens to dry herself.

Her every, only thought is on her baby.

And as she finds relief in the release

of her milk in her child’s tiny mouth

she wonders.

Does it all have to feel so violent?

The pain of birth, the explosion in her breasts,

The soaked sheets and the night sweats?

The way her infant seems to have called every pore in her body

to pour forth

as she answers a primal, biological call.

Perhaps it is practice

her body knowing the pain to come

as she is raising her child in a world

where violence converges sharply

with love.

A world where sheets and alphabet rugs

remain soaked,

where mouths don’t mean to be greedy

but their bellies are so empty,

and mothers weep in showers.

Their only thoughts are on their babies

as they long for the days when

their arms were enough

where the milk in their breasts was enough

to keep their children alive.

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