This thing always seemed
too tame or domesticated.
Beyond you with muscles & tattoos
your hitch-hiking skills and ability to tie
all seven essential knots (the clove hitch, the half hitch)
too fecund too essential
how could you make milk:
nurse or be nursed?
(the verb, the noun)
Sadly you picture a cow.
Nothing against the dear beasts but their
symbol; the music they make in the mind’s eye.
Nothing against them but their horrifying dugs
That hang so low. (the bowline, the square knot)
But these were ideas. And foolish ones.
All before the fact, but can’t know a thing until
you know it. (the sheet bend, the taut line)
Suddenly your body cinches and heaves with
Preternatural force: You are in the thick of it.
This is blooded battle, tooth and claw, life and death and
There is nothing, nothing
you wouldn’t do
To succour, protect
Yes, to nurse (the verb)
In the bleakest hours of labour the thought appears: Tigers make milk, too.
Clatters on a ticker tape ribbon in the telegraph machine in your head while contractions rule you like riptides and at the end when he arrives, beloved man first born, you get it: This is fierce. Not just the Tiger, the Cow, too
I am tiger, I am the cow, too.
I am she.