by Roseanne Freed

I knew you’d cry once my head kissed
the pillow, but I lay down anyway,
praying for a few minutes of rest—

my nighty damp with milk and sweat,
every one of those sleep-deprived
summer nights after your birth.

Only your insistent cries
and my maternal instinct dragged
me from my bed. A single glance

of you my mewling, sweet-smelling
miracle, your little head wet
from the humidity, your arms

and legs calling for me—
and I’d forget my weariness
or that I stank of a dairy.

With the world in my arms,
a love I’ve never known
filled my heart, and milk

spouted out like a fountain,
spraying you—your face,
your hair, even up your nose.

Looking across at me
as you raced to gulp my liquid love,
your little hand grasped my finger,

and you gave a crooked smile.

PAINTING: Mother and Child by Pablo Picasso (1905).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My adult daughter died in 2020. It’s good to be reminded of the happy times we shared.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roseanne Freed is a third-generation wanderer. Born in South Africa, she raised her children in Canada, and now lives in the United States. Her poems have appeared in Blue Heron Review, McQueens Quinterly, One ART, and Verse-Virtual among others. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and sociology from The University of South Africa, and worked for a dozen years at the J. Paul Getty Museum. She is currently an outdoor educator, sharing her love of nature with school children by leading hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains. She and her husband live in Los Angeles.

PHOTO: The author and her daughter.