Emily Cullen

Love and Milk

My breasts wake me up.
Tingling fullness coaxes me onto my back.
Like the miracle of the loaves and fishes
my night supply has been replenished.
In my thirty-sixth year
my body has learned a new skill.

Your head jerks,
eyes brighten
as you spot my nipple.
Fists clench, unfurl,
fingers curl round my thumb.
Hidden tunnels carry milk:
Aquaducts bearing fresh water
to a Roman fountain.

How should I cope with my cornucopia?
When you suckle one side
the other leaks.
‘Each drop is precious,’ they say
so I also express for the rainy day.

Eyelids grow heavy.
Mouthing wide rhythms,
you reach the hind milk.
I tickle your toes to keep you awake
but it’s you who lulls me to doze.

We’ve come a long way here
from sore cracks and lanolin cream.
By the time you’ve drawn out your feed
we’re ready to curl up side by side,
drift into our mutual nap –
make up for a night without sleep.




Dr. Emily Cullen is a past Burning Bush contributor. She is a writer, arts manager, harpist and scholar who publishes widely on aspects of Irish cultural history. In 2004 she curated the national Patrick Kavanagh Centenary celebrations and was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions series. Her first collection, No Vague Utopia, was published by Ainnir Publishing in 2003.