“Two Voices: My Nurse and I” by Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda

Image by Kristin Beeler

After Frida Kahlo’s Mi Nana y Yo, 1937

You do not nourish me, though you offer your breasts,
A wet-nurse,

while my real mother gives birth to a sister.
I do my duty.  I sacrifice

Your milk bitter as oleander, I call you Nana.
a suckling infant at home,

I’d rather press my lips to clouds drizzling
shedding tears

over a maze of leaves, engorged veins
buoyant as breath.

feeding insects, giddy with song.   Newly born:
Wiggling, you turn from me,

a praying mantis, a monarch sucking fluid from stalks.
obsidian eyes, empty.

Estranged, I refuse to knead your chest,
Disheveled Universe,

releasing drops into my half-opened mouth.
crack open this shield.

Indian woman, why won’t you remove your mask?
Reorder this life

As moon candles the stars, cradle me
saturated with providence

so I can fold back time and dream my mother
among splashes of rain,

nurses me, her milk—consecrated by a kiss—
spilling from a holy font.



Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda has published five books of poetry and co-edited two poetry anthologies.  Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines, including Autumn Sky Poetry, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, Best of Literary Journals, with work forthcoming in Poet Lore and An Endless Skyway, an anthology of poems by U.S. State Poets Laureate.  She has received five grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, a Council for Basic Education fellowship award, an Edgar Allan Poe first-place award, a Virginia Cultural Laureate Award, four Pushcart nominations, and many others. Carolyn also works as a visual artist.  She served as Poet Laureate of Virginia, 2006-2008.

Read our interview with Carolyn here.