April 1, 2017 orangeq2017

The Origin of Breast Milk

Sierra DeMulder


It started after the rape of St. Agatha,

a woman of God, imprisoned in a brothel
for a month for rejecting a suitor.
She did not cry, even as

the shade was drawn on the first night

and the worst and most tired
parts of men found themselves
at her bedroom door.

Her first lover was a boy,
no older than fourteen.
Her second, a blacksmith.
Her third tasted like wet stone

and looked like her brother.

Her fourth, a drunkard,
a widower. In the morning,
while Agatha slept,
women throughout Sicily
suddenly dropped their baskets of fruit
and pots of boiling water,
their hands curiously grasping

their chests: a wetness,
spilling, soaking through
every blouse. The doctors were called,

even the midwives. Women

began fastening cloth
around their torsos with twine.
Months later, months after Agatha’s breasts

were cut off, one woman
weary with a colicky babe
untied the twine,

pushed the angry mouth to her nipple.

The child coughed at first,
then quieted, and it was all
so familiar. It was the way

it had always been
but gentler, the taking, the giving.

Tagged: , , , , , ,