Sunday, August 6, 2023

Wet Nurse

Wet Nurse

Harold asks for a résumé.
Akna bares her left breast.
The nipple is bulbous, erect.
No, Harold explains, where have you worked before?
Akna bares her right breast.

Akna’s from Guatemala;
her language a Mayan dialect.
Harold’s world is software;
his language, hard code.

Harold’s wife handled soft things
like growing the child inside.
Now out, helpless, hungry.
Wife suddenly dead, Harold over his head
coping with grief and a newborn.
Through church comes refugee Akna, with infant.
Harold’s baby barely alive.
Nurture, soothe, survive.

Boys grow, hermanos de leche. Milk brothers.
Meanwhile Harold the father, Akna the mother
live under one roof, sleep in separate rooms,
have girlfriends, boyfriends. Nothing sticks.

Harold and Akna at the soccer games,
the robot competitions. Breakfast, dinner,
always together. They whisper, they laugh.
Do they—? Are they—? People wonder.
Harold dodges. Akna says No entiendo.
The brothers don’t answer, simply smile.

At high school graduation sitting side by side,
Akna in tears, Harold takes her hand.
Pareja de leche. Milk couple.
What matters they do, they are.
Nurture, soothe, survive.


From my book Random Saints

First published in Sheila-Na-Gig. Thank you Hayley Mitchell Haugen, editor. 

Note: this poem was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for Best of Net.

Image by comboionos brasil via Pixabay

Hear me:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi folks

 For a few years now I've been posting my poetry on Facebook (and made many friends in the process). Now I want to be more widely availa...