Jennifer Givhan



Daughter, I won’t make milk for you anymore.
      The body retreats. It reclaims
miracles. My smaller-now breasts, whitish,

shining as with sickness, the way the body
     releases its heat, a light summer dress, floating
in the river while the pregnancy

strips, the twenty in Ziploc freezer bags,
     their lines fading equal signs or crosses,
proof: like La Virgen in her robes, stains

that didn’t freeze or scrape, barnacle-
     calcifying silence. Some things the body
reabsorbs (split wood, fingernails, trauma,

milk). Some things it lets go—bundles of cells
     that won’t grow. But not you, little girl—you clung
& I clung back. I used to trick myself

years before you, believing my breasts were sore
      & not for pinching. If I squeezed long enough,
a sticky clear stream would ooze from one side.

Look what the body can do—
     it can lie. I can lie, too: I’m choosing this.
The truth can wrap itself in cabbage leaves, or wait

for the body to reabsorb. The baby knows
      the difference between milk & mothered cracks
leaking eggshell white, grungy white, sad white.