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She Hates Numbers

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the conductress of milk, a poem


(originally published in Stirring:  A Literary Collection)


The Conductress of Milk


I am a conduit, pure liquid medium. 

It is like bleeding, I prostrate myself

to her lips, lay low while she sends

eloquent messages with her tiny, velvety hands,


her eyes dreaming, smiling.  At 3 a.m.

she has the strength of a legend. 

She grasps her own thumbs tightly

while she sucks on me.  There is pain,


but not too much.  I hew roads

through this darkness, telling her how one day

we will visit Paris, leaning over the old

sandstone edge of my favorite bridge


across the Seine.  The passage exhausts,

yet chronicles how time can stand still,

how the illusion of eternity creates its own value. 

I feel like an impostor — only the fact I’m lactating


convinces me I’m her mother.  How quickly

she goes from one emotional state to the next —

she can be fussing one second and smiling

to herself the next.  The silkiness of her cheek,


slick with spilt milk, is like angelwings.

She kicks her legs out straight while nursing,

moves her hands and arms like Leonard Bernstein

conducting — she moves her head for emphasis,


sometimes pulling back on the breast,

stretching the nipple.  She smacks her lips,

then pops off and lets go.

She looks up at me, wide-eyed, but soon


drops off into a very pleasant looking

milk-sucking stupor, a milky drunkenness,

a milk-sucking intoxication.  No wonder

we all ache for drugs afterward.


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