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Hunger                                                          {forthcoming in MMM Vol. X.}

by Alison Stone


They have to wait to bury my mother
until my daughter stops nursing.
She had slept in a padded basket
while I stood wooden between my husband and my father;
people droned my mother’s praises
and the coffin loomed.

Now she wakes and roots, all hunger.
A stranger takes us to the rabbi’s study. Amid clutter
of paper and books, I lift
my black shirt. Broken,
numb, I cannot image my body
will respond, but her latch draws milk down.

She sucks dreamily. So new to this world,
she knows nothing but a mother
who drips tears on her still-closing skull.
Her eyes flicker open and shut. Someone knocks,
politely rushing us. I rub her back.
Her eyes stay closed now

but the fierce gums clamp.
I wait. The knot in my throat
starts to soften. As long as she holds on,
nothing is final. The drive to the grave postponed,
my mother is still above ground, here
with her new grandchild and me.





Alison Stone’s poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, and a variety of other journals and anthologies. She has been awarded Poetry’s Frederick Bock Prize and New York Quarterly’s Madeline Sadin award. Her first book, They Sing at Midnight, won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award and was published by Many Mountains Moving Press. She is also a visual artist and the creator of The Stone Tarot.