I will nurse milk, says toddler. When you get little, she tells me, you can have some too. 3 am. Baby up again, wants to nurse again. Breast flaccid with exhaustion, we curl into each other, barnacle lips pressing the cut on my nipple. Husband takes my hand. Mommy, get me milk, says toddler. Change me, she says. Stumble out of bed as sky reddens. Tell myself: today will be better. Tell myself, this time I’ll make it on time, though of course there is never time. I’m late and she’s crying. Needs pacifier. Needs teddy. I don’t want you to go to the bathroom. Cries between swings. Beneath the slide. Sun’s in her eyes. Baby wiggles, nails shred my neck. Card is empty. Bus drives by. No we don’t charge buscards, says the man in the quickstop. Go outside. Toddler proudly holds the chocolate she stole I’m sitting so nicely. I’m not using my hands to hit or pull hair or take hats or pinch. I’m using my hands so nicely, she says, licking the chocolate away.
Batnadiv HaKarmi is a writer and visual artist who currently resides in Jerusalem. Her work has been published in Poet Lore, Radar Poetry, and most recently in Belmont Story Review. A graduate of the graduate writing program in Bar Ilan University, she is the recipient of the Andrea Moria Prize for Poetry, and was shortlisted for the Brideport Prize. Her work can be followed on www.batnadiv.com and on Instagram @batnadiv_art