In many cultural traditions, milk is a powerful symbol. It represents fertility, abundance, and eternal life. It was considered the food of the gods. It flowed freely in Canaan, the promised land. It is the first human diet and is deeply connected with life itself.
Many of us have warm memories associated with milk. An example is a poem by Scottish poet, Donny O’Rourke titled Milk:
Your custom often
when the house was still
to brew milky coffee
Child care experts would have frowned
on my late hours,
The bitter adult drinks
and frothy confidences.
yet your stories stopped my mewling
and continued as I grew
me tending the fire,
you talking of Ireland.
more real to your first born
than the younger ones who slept.
Those nightcaps, Mother,
were our hushed bond.
And though, for twenty years now,
I’ve drunk my coffee black,
I’m not weaned yet
of that rich, warm milk.
Try It: Milk Poetry
Think of the place of milk in your life. Whether it was the importance of milk in your infancy, the miracle of ice cream, milk in your cereal, dunking cookies in milk, or pouring a glass for a dear child— write a poem about the simple goodness of milk or meaningful memories associated with it.
Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here is a poem on small kindnesses with a mathematical perspective from Monica we enjoyed:
There are many kinds
and none are truly random,
a mathematician might say.
They’re all calculated, multi-variable
functions of the recipient. Small,
even infinitesimal acts, when we integrate
over the interval from zero
to infinity, give us the whole,
filling in the area under the curve.
Photo by Anders Ruff, Creative Commons via Flickr.
How to Write a Poem uses images like the buzz, the switch, the wave—from the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry”—to guide writers into new ways of writing poems. Excellent teaching tool. Anthology and prompts included.
“How to Write a Poem is a classroom must-have.”
—Callie Feyen, English Teacher, Maryland