Milk Soup – Editor’s Choice

There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies.

                Winston Churchill


At 5 months my sister rejected

my mother’s breast.

She threw up in small ponds on

the pale yellow tile


until one day sister refused

her body altogether.

My mother tried everything.

The milk of the fox, of the bean,


sheep, ghost, wildebeest.

They all rotted my sister’s

teeth. I smelled them.

Like a sour chicken coop,


They were the grey snippets of

fowl claws. In order to make

a Polish milk soup you need

a good sauce pan, one from


the old country. Bring the milk to

boil with sugar and salt lumps.

Unless you make it the Dutch way,

then you need cinnamon.


You must watch and wait for

the film to form on your sister’s

forehead, on her angry milk

and peel it away with a spoon.


She sticks to the cool metal so well.

Mother asks Sister: “Did he touch you?”

Sister: “I wouldn’t let him do that!”

In some little minutes she will be fully


boiled. Mother asks:

“Did he touch you?” Sister:

“I wouldn’t let him!”

You can stop a pot from foaming over


if you stick a wooden spoon

on top. The kind for paddling and

savory sauces. But I like to watch

the froth stain the stove top


with creamy rings. I shouldn’t even

drink the stuff. My body can’t

want the milk of an animal. If he

tried to touch her, she wouldn’t let him.


But I let him.


Maggie Lily is a poet, artist, and curator from Philadelphia who hopes to be remembered in the bones of others.