My brother says my milk smells different

Meaning different from his wife’s, meaning
a melody all my own, playing in my body
like the song the headphoned girl on the bus
mouths the words to—silent for the rest of us, a tune
only when we press her lips to our ear.

A friend stored her milk in a humming freezer,
rows and rows of pumped bottles, icy blue-white
diamonds tucked away in the basement, glowing
dumbly each time she pulled open the door—
plentitude, mass, sweetness contained.

Or unleashed: two long seams of milk, petalled
stains flushing my shirt front, the way migrating
monarchs hang in delicate clumps from eucalyptus—
near-still garlands, just the faint backbeat of their wings
ready to erupt and take flight like a song.

Keetje Kuipers is the author of two collections of poetry, Beautiful in the Mouth (BOA Editions, 2010) and The Keys to the Jail (BOA, 2014). Her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, AGNI, Prairie Schooner, West Branch and Painted Bride Quarterly, among many other journals. A former Stegner Fellow, she is currently an Assistant Professor at Auburn University.