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while jenny laughs, a poem

illustration while jenny laughs hawks illustration while jenny laughs nursing mother

While Jenny Laughs
(originally published in Earth’s Daughters)

 
While Jenny laughs,
two large brown hawks
ride the currents,
swirling over our heads
like the occasional
dreams we’ve had

of flying — she and I
agree on this. She
raises her blouse
to nurse her son.
His wispy curls are moving
lazily in the air, too,

his tender scalp
the color of a ripe peach,
and as he nurses she
kisses his hand.
Since I cut my hair
short, she says,

people keep mistaking me
for a man. Her smooth
face is perfectly
symmetrical, her cheekbones
high pirouettes of pale
skin, lightly flushed and

freckled by the quick
heat of early summer.
I would never, ever,
mistake you for a man,
I say, and as her milk
flows into the baby’s

mouth she laughs again,
her high voice turning
into notes of clear amber
bells. Look at the hawks
one more time, I tell her,
and so, to please me, she does.

 

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