Two Poems by Samantha Leigh Futhey

Samantha Leigh Futhey

Samantha Leigh Futhey

Samantha Leigh Futhey is currently an M.F.A. candidate in the Creative Writing and Environment program at Iowa State University. She has poetry published in RHINO Poetry (under the name Samantha Leigh), Rust +Moth and forthcoming in Roanoke Review.

Milk Fever

Healthy, she’d shy from my hand. 
But the cow and I sit together, 
stained with muck, her brain fizzling

magnesium misfires, calcium depleted 
for the calf who cries for her teats 
and tries to nurse my thighs. Sweet Pea

doesn’t care that I stroke her,
pluck at muddied straw plaited
in her auburn hair. Her legs 

straighten against her will, eyes 
glossed. A beard, foamy and white, 
rims her mouth. She heaves her breaths, 

the unexpected price of her labor.
She gives too much of herself; I give 
nothing but human cooing. It’s easy 

to forget the danger of birth, forget the body
makes decisions without discussion, unfolds 
to illness without forewarning. When my sister

giving birth says I can’t do it, my mother says, 
yes you can, and when Sweet Pea sways, 
saying I can’t do it, my father says, 

yes you can, plunging a needle in her neck,
funneling minerals and calcium to replenish
her udder, the bulging sack once 

a small pocket tucked between her legs,
pink and eager with the adolescence my sister 
and Sweet Pea relinquished. Unable

to understand this foreign place they live in, 
I walk away, as their children surround them, 
milk prickling their babies with need.





Broods of beetles spring from the ground as she 
splits apart, the slickness of her blood reforming 

into her fur and bone miniature. She hovers
around her calf, nuzzles urgency 

for the newly born to suckle milk. 
But her body is not her own, nor the calves 

that spill from her. All night, they call 
to each other, a steady current

flowing across fields and gates. In the barn,
mice scamper with their young. Swallows yolk 

fledglings to their wings. Is it too much to ask
for eternity spent in grass, hooves 

tucked under belly, her daughter’s musk 
of wet earth in her nose? By morning,

mother and daughter croak their cries. 
Every season, mothers remember 

their one obligation, offer children 
and their liquid gold, relearn the art 

of forgetting. And if mother
and daughter meet again, they won’t 

sit together, but give each other 
side glances. The younger will charge ahead—

her hooves fling rocks, striking her mother’s ankles.