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