Winner 2015 Ruth Stone Poetry Prize

This goat kicked me only once,
as if to say she knows
I’m an amateur

but leaning my head
against her rounding flank,
I love the way her need for release
matches my need for her milk,
and I remember the ferocious little mouths
that latched on to me
relieving that overwhelming, dripping pressure of too much

and it was all too much then—
the endless stream of groceries meals
bills illnesses laundry jobs no sleep—
so to sit in the rocking chair was sweet respite,
to do just one thing:
watch the baby
drain the profusion of milk out of me
watch the baby
become so contented that nursing faded into sleep.

Now, this ordinary chore of milking generates
a similar contentment in me
the way her steady animal warmth warms me
the way my hands learn the ancient rhythm
the way the pail rings every time her milk hits it.

And a twinge of astonishment
quickens in me as well—
after you and I labored long and hard,
after we created so much together that is still so good—

how can it be that you didn’t live long enough
to come round to this side
where simple contentment gives birth to joy.