The Poetic Hill

Teri Ellen Cross Davisis a Cave Canem fellow and local poet whose work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including “Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam,” “Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade,” “Full Moon on K Street: Poems about Washington, D.C.,” and “Check the Rhyme: An Anthology of Female Poets & Emcees.” She serves as poetry coordinator for the Folger Shakespeare Library. In her new book of poems, “Haint” (Gival Press), she deals with childhood and adolescence, sex and race – and motherhood. The poem below alludes to poet Sylvia Plath, who left bread and milk for her children before putting her head in a gas oven.  

Two Glasses of Milk
If I were to leave them
two glasses of milk,
don’t write about that,
write about the napkin
the perfect triangle tucked
around the circle of glass
the absorbed condensation.
If I were to leave them
two glasses of milk, it would be
the tension of motherhood
and career, poet and wife
pulling like teeth at my
extended nipples until I was
greedily consumed in silence.
If I were to leave them
two glasses of milk,
even across my tombstone
would be the words:
daughter, wife, mother.
Identities like anchors,
so heavy I would carry
them even after death.

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