Hospital Milk

by Petra Kuppers


Try to write of aggression

of fear

of abandonment

of terror in white and green

of blood-curdling horror, red, red, read,

but all that appears before me is



steady drip

steady drip

tick the time tock tick tick

and my hands on the sheet field breathe

my nails grow, ragged inside

and my mind breaks gently, fallen in calm repose

into the world behind the milk,

beyond the sheet,




The hands are gone, the legs, my knees,

the neck tethered to the world by a small red line,

the mainline, where blood sluices out on command.

but I float free, on dried poppy sap, I dream,

or the cloying smell of an opium den in Victorian London.

I braid a landscape out of milk,

entwine my hair, seal with blood clots,

kiss the envelope goodbye.


Pose one.

Pose two.

Pose three.

Eurydice's opera dream in La Salpêtrière

as I learn to play my part,

patiently waiting for my next cue

milk rain coming down around me

into a milk bath they push my head,



I am gone.