Jenny Factor

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My hands are wide.
My eyes are cold.
My heart is small.
I hoard my change.

I squandered happiness 
for truth
but fail to act
on what I know.

I fail to act
on what I know.
I hibernate.
I winter over.

I have no trust
in stars and snow.
Such milky offerings
come then go.

I hibernate.
I winter-over.
My heart is wide.
My hands are cold.

I hoard my truth.
and hide my change.
and hunger, but
I do not go.

Sapphics on Nursing

Distance laid its static on us as mothers
Once we’d passed our rocky first spring together
Phoning news (“Bad Night!” Poop volcano,” “Sam woke
five times”), the evenings

We spent lonely pacing the kitchen, hours
We had only howling warm tender bundled
Weights, the phone, each other, and days we strolled through
Descanso Gardens.

On those paths of fallen, bruised camellias,
Rolling shade and stone under wheels of strollers,
Sleep-deprived, sore-nippled, confused and angry,
Quipping, crying, we 

Shifted fussy small boys from tit to shoulder.
Sometimes I would pick up your tiny Mitchell,
Gangly small anemone—eager grin, his
Blue eyes darting. Sam

Reared determination, back arched, neck stretched
Toward his usurped position. On stone steps, we’d 
Change them, trading stories of my best friend whose
First baby died in

Labor, or your sister who arced milk at her
Husband. Bought sprout sandwiches, cookies from con-
Cession, we’d plan on sharing but always went
Back for seconds. I,

Nursing, watched your son at your dewy nipple
And your blond hair beaded in orange sunbeams,
Watched your calves gain shape as months passed from labor—
I saw this wordless—

And I knew I loved your grown body fiercely
Not unlike my love for those growing babies
And the guilty intimacy of tell-all
Phone calls at midday.

As our babies started to stand and toddle,
Your hurt marriage healed with your growing Mitchell.
Month by month our phone-calling dwindled out. My
Problems continued.

Ah, Janine, time’s passed. There have been such changes.
Sam starts preschool twice a week this September. 
Sometimes I see boys who I think are Mitch—I’ll
Have no more babies.

Sometimes I remember Descanso Gardens—
Missing noontimes spent at white plastic tables,
Telling truths we couldn’t share other places
To the shrill fugue of

Bird-call, boy-call, soft urgent speech and nursing.
Underneath the clouds that would pass, the airplanes
In the darting sun of that worn-down April
Our breasts grew firm, the

Pressure drove our speaking. How I wish I’d known
That baby-season, how without consent, words, or warning
Milk entered, life claimed all those empty spaces
In us, between us.

---Originally published in the Copper Canyon Press anthology, The Poet’s Child (Michael Wiegers, Ed) in a slightly different form.


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