The Ignorance of Milk

Kateri Menominee

She doesn’t dance with bombs, no, she tried to avoid them. In a street blast, she lies face down, one arm on her baby, the other, severed to the shoulder, palm resting on slips of glass. The child’s mouth tries in vain to tunnel into her blouse to find milk: she strokes his face in a laceration large across her breast, swelled and open. Years later, a man resists the temptation to calm his face in a familiar breast, not his girlfriend’s or his wife’s. He watches his children sleep while they suck soft on their sheets, wonders if he will ever find comfort. He lays his head on a bed, with lips white and split. Outside his apartment window, a car runs a red light, strikes a pedestrian. He sits up, screaming, rubs his shoulders seamed with sinew and black veins. He runs to his children’s room, slams the door. He watches as his little girl squints, cries and buries her face in white linen. Pillow marks like tiny roads down the cherry of her cheek.

Outside the Wall of Crosses

I created you from clay.
My Golgotha of shit,
excrement of sinners and
fallen saints who slipped off
pearl horses, fell through clouds
of purgatory and petals.

I cast a spell about you,
moonshine and gravestone.

When you awoke, your eyes
crossed like death. Horseflies
came by your face but you
did nothing to swat them away.
They swarmed you, bathed you in
their hairless legs and honey pot eyes.

The moon shone from the window,
an orb of light on your face. It sang you
something only night could understand.
A loon’s lullaby too loud and unsettling,
I heard the animals tap their nails on windows,
crescents of claws that prayed to you.

I couldn’t stop the fecal tracks outside
my doorstep, or the torch lights burning
in the distance. I never saw pitchforks
or scythes bent and rusted, but the
hangman’s noose flown like a flag
over the poppies of their heads.

The villagers didn’t appreciate you.

You were holier than a monk, or
the nun who bent brass bars to
seduce that monk. I found you fertilized,
charred black, and lumped in a mound
by the green of the hillside.

You weren’t born from my belly, but
I found you.
Deep rot in dung, deep
inside the cavern of my hand.


I am told my body is the atlas
inside the rivers that run through
the geography of my hands.

But, I have heard different.

We went to Starbuck’s where
you worked, and while I drank
my coffee, you poured alchemy

in my cup, a cap full of
crystallized wine.

You explained to me how the earth
is rotating around the bend of my heart,
up through the opening in my chest cavity,

wide, collapsing.

A place where my clots are like stars
that fill the constellations in my wrist,
where there is a waterfall of blood

pulling the planets to rotation.

You told me to create words from alloy,
to copper for my voice. That these words
will rise and fall in and out of the strands

of my hair only to purge stomach, to open
this garden where it will shape flowers
carved into the curl of my back.


Husband, she was     pretty,
this is how they made her.

You can blame the gods.
She wasn’t what you would expect.
So slim, with muscles—

climbing    every    inch   of her.

Limbs so long, a doe before
gestation. The way she carried
the urn, with oils that slipped
down her shoulders to the
soft of her hips, wide with

sun    specks    strips   of alabaster shadows
from stone and sand reflecting on skin.

She was what made me hold
that desire, to push myself against
her body, to feel the fold of her
breast on mine, the dip of her
abdomen to the ripples on her thigh.

I did mean to defy you husband.

I missed the scent of another woman,
cinnamon and sandalwood. She
slipped under my stola, her
fingers    felling   walls
beneath my fabric.

She wore your toga,
held your Gladius
with such rule; I
felt little starlings
beating my chest.

Before you open
my throat    husband,
know that it will spill
nightmares that will
stumble on your doorstep.

You never found her poems
behind that basin, behind those
amphoras   with honey dripping.

This is where I hid them.

I baked them in bread, crushed
her lyrics deep in flour and sea salt,

with this I never fed you, I

chewed every word sweeter
than your own.

Bury me with her, so our
bodies can rot amaranth,
with their thorns sewing
our bodies shut,

with lilies blooming
where you fear to touch.

Kateri Menominee
Kateri Menominee

Kateri Menominee has been found. She is a Creative Writing Major studying at the Institute of American Indian Arts. When not at school, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, creating memories, thus creating stories. Some of her work has been in the IAIA Anthologies Radical Enjambment and Birds, and Other Omens.