You sat on the sofa and watched tears leak
as I told you I am a milk machine –
I can only offer this, everyone says
put him down, he cannot be hungry, my blood
turns the milk pink, I can offer nothing else.
You said milk is what he needs, you are all
he needs, you are growing a person
take him into your bed and do what you feel.
I am all he needs. I hauled myself taller then,
mouth remembering my great great
grandma, before shame, before clockwork babies
when sisters knew that milk has raspberry threads
and aunties pressed cabbage on breasts
and even though you never came back
you left resin on the cushion and my milk shone gold
and we sat for weeks in your glow.
Rachel Bower is a poet, academic and editor. She is a Research Fellow at the University of Leeds, investigating the links between poets in Leeds and Nigeria in the 1950s and ‘60s. Her academic book, Epistolarity and World Literature, 1980-2010, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in August 2017. Rachel’s poetry pamphlet, Moon Milk, will be published by Valley Press in May 2018. She is currently co-editing an anthology with Helen Mort entitled Verse Matters, out with Valley Press in November 2017.