I aimed my breast like a torpedo into her mouth. If the latch went wrong, my nipples bloomed blisters, and she would not drain the breast. I cried each time she had to eat. Most feedings took hours—my arms frozen, afraid to change position, her hungry grunts and snorts like an unforgiving beast that needed me to give and give. I smelled like sour milk. I leaked through the nursing pads, the bra, the extra-large maternity shirt. Her breath smelled like sour milk, and when she spit up—both of us soaked—we could have raised mushrooms, could have clothed ourselves in mildew. We were wet. The fever came in the middle of the night with my breasts engorged, enflamed, the burn of all that milk I still had to let-down. She cried. There was no escape, so I sat down in that pink nursery chair and fed her.
The fever never went away. Night and day, she had to eat, and when not eating, I had to hold her against my left side and pat her butt gently with my right hand. Everything was milk and sweat. The moment I stopped the taps, she’d wail like a siren tattling that I had failed. Her wet cheek grew yeast, so her skin split open along with my nipples and everything was pink—bloody milk—bonding us to each other. There was that breast pump breathing in and out—a ventilator, a prison, and there was her father going off to work, but really to fuck his whore in a hotel room at noon on a Tuesday while I played cow and dairymaid. But I didn’t know that then.
Cat Dixon is the author of Eva and Too Heavy to Carry (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2016, 2014) and The Book of Levinson and Our End Has Brought the Spring (Finishing Line Press, 2017, 2015). Her poetry and reviews have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Sugar House Review, Midwest Quarterly Review, Coe Review, Lime Hawk, Eclectica, and Mid-American Review.