We Didn’t Drink Much Milk

Luz Pichel, tr. Neil Anderson
| poetry

If I had drunk more milk as a girl
the magpies who settle in the brush wouldn’t mock me,
the bats wouldn’t eat out my eyes
as I fall asleep
and the king wouldn’t come with his hungry stick
and strike me on the back
on the head
on the back
on the head

like that, and that sing-song
father says ox tail
father says horse tail
father tells me
I’m thin as a rail

Like that,
teeth gritted
as I try to bear it
looking at this barn swallow while the blows fall
here in my chest it is spring.
Sometimes— poor thing — I feel like choking it.

Where Will The Barn Swallows Go?