Already, I know how to annoy you,
who only wants to suck and suck and dream of milk
while I, like a mother chimp in a National Geographic special,
scrape the flakes of cradle cap from your scalp,
trim your paper-thin fingernails with my teeth,
wipe the wax out of your ear with the tip of my pinky.
I want to be a good mother,
but this morning I did not get to you quickly enough,
my dream wrapped around me like a blanket I couldn't kick off.
By the time I rubbed my nipple against your mouth
you were angry, and shook your head until finally
you drank, only to fall back asleep. Was it enough?
Sometimes you smile only for me. Will I sour,
like milk? One day I will reach over to touch your hair
and you may look away,
so I trace your eyebrow with my thumb
as I might trace your future, memorize the soft butter
of your skin and hope that you will never move across the country,
never marry a woman who hates me, never stop wanting me
to look at you like I am looking at you
as you suck, suck, suck on the certainty of this sweet milk,
then rest your head on the pillow of my breast
the pillow where, for now, both our dreams come true.
Mothering Magazine July/August 2000
Daniel laughs out loud in the waiting room
but as usual he is sitting there alone.
In my office he mutters to himself quietly,
Everything is fine.
Then, rocking in his chair, he confides in me:
All I want is a conversation.
Talking is like the minute hand
going around the face of a clock.
Other people go around, but I get stuck.
I say I understand him
but it won’t be enough to save him later,
sitting at the White Hen, stirring milk
into his fifth cup of coffee,
waiting for anyone to say hello
so he can go home.
MARGIE: The American Journal of Poetry, 2006