Rita Dove



   After Reading Mickey in the Night
Kitchen for the Third Time Before Bed

I'm the milk and the milk's in me! . . . I'm Mickey!

My daughter spreads her legs
to find her vagina:
hairless, this mistaken
bit of nomenclature
is what a stranger cannot touch
without her yelling. She demands
to see mine and momentarily
we're a lopsided star
among the spilled toys,
my prodigious scallops
exposed to her neat cameo.

And yet the same glazed
tunnel, layered sequences.
She is three; that makes this
innocent. We're pink!
she shrieks, and bounds off.

Every month she wants
to know where it hurts
and what the wrinkled string means
between my legs. This is good blood
I say, but that's wrong, too.
How to tell her that it's what makes us–
black mother, cream child.
That we're in the pink
and the pink's in us.


Rita Dove, Grace Notes, W.W. Norton, 1991.