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By Teri Ellen Cross Davis

-- based on a New York Times photograph of a grieving mother
during Sudan’s 2005 drought

When you were inside me I could feel you thrive
your rounded kicks, my body your taut drum.
Now I beat these breasts, betrayed by a landscape
that wilts, a place where even tears won’t come.

Your rounded kicks in my body’s taut drum        
why push, gush blood, why make you,
to wilt in a place where even tears don’t come?          
No milk on your lips, your wavering cry

why push, gush blood, why make you?
How do my feet keep going, weighted by
your wavering cry still no milk for your lips, 
and you grow lighter day after day?

How do my feet keep going, the weight of
when you were inside me, thrives, when I felt you.
Now you have grown lighter—and day after day
I beat these breasts, blamed, betrayed by this landscape.

Added: Friday, June 10, 2016
Teri Ellen Cross Davis
Photo by Mignonette Dooley.

Teri Ellen Cross Davis is a Cave Canem fellow and has attended the Soul Mountain Writer’s Retreat, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her work can be read in: Bum Rush The Page: A Def Poetry Jam, Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem's First Decade, Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC; and the following journals: Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Gargoyle, Natural Bridge, Torch, Poet Lore and The North American Review. Her first collection Haint will be published in June, 2016 by Gival Press. She lives in Silver Spring, MD.

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