Dispatches

April 16th, 2014 | 8:00am

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user trasroid


Sweet joy, sweet joy, I hum against the kitten cry of my newborn daughter, three days old, who directs her distress at my dry nipple. Home today from the hospital and no milk yet in my breasts. Since the doctors cut her out of me, she has been living on fat reserves and a few drops of the sticky, yellow colostrum I squeeze from my body into her rooting mouth. Baby wolf trying to howl, no sound coming out. Baby polar bear burrowing into white, substance-less snow.

Half of all young will starve by spring, the narrator intones.

Outside, there is snow, crumbling walls of it surrounding our house, slick footprints in the packed-down paths where students have penguin-walked to class. Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 2014. On the weather map, a cone of purple descending from the top of the world. Inside the house, two new parents trying to swaddle their screaming child. We camp out on the couch, watch the wildlife on TV, drift in and out of sleep, our daughter nestled in the lair of our arms, propped on pillows. She wakes and we try again at the nipple.Sweet joy, sweet joy.

The arctic fox and her feathery...