Lactate

The point when smoke from woodstove
folded the mist of the day

was the time milkman tied the cow
to the lamp post.

Udder heavy with milk the mother lowed
to the calf stuffed with hay

and propped against the fence. The child tugged,
areola a dark smudge of sores.

I picked my clothes, laced the blouse
tenderly over my breast,

looked out to see the cow bite into the calf,
chew wisps of hay

and my child in bed asleep, mouth curdled with
threads of milk.

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