Milk

My mother wouldn’t be cowed into nursing
and decided that formula was healthier
than the liquid from her breasts.

And so I never sucked a single drop
from the source, a river dried up.
It was always bottled for me.

But one night in my mid-thirties
in a mirrored room off Highway 59
a woman who had a baby daughter

turned to me with an enigmatic smile
and cupped my face in her chapped hands
and tipped her nipple into my mouth.

This happened a long time ago in another city
and it is wrong to tell about it.
It was infantile to bring it up in therapy.

And yet it is one of those moments—
misplaced, involuntary—that swim up
out of the past without a conscience:

She lifts my face and I taste it—
the sudden spurting nectar,
the incurable sweetness that is life.