Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Anne Enright

The Milk Surprises Me

Anne Enright ranks among the most candid writers in the English language on the subject of motherhood. Her essay, “My Milk,” about the experience of nursing her first child, appeared in the London Review of Books, October 5, 2000, and is collected in the book of essays, Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood (2004):

“The milk surprises me, above all, because it hurts as it is let down, and this foolish pain hits me at quite the wrong times. The reflex is designed to work at the sight, sound, or thought of your baby – which is spooky enough – but the brain doesn’t seem to know what a baby is exactly, and so tries to make you feed anything helpless, or wonderful, or small. So I have let down milk for Russian submariners and German tourists dying on Concorde. Loneliness and technology get me every time, get my milk every time. Desire, also, stabs me not in the heart but on either side of the heart – but I had expected this. What I had not expected was that there should be some things that do not move me, that move my milk. Or that, sometimes, I only realise I am moved when I feel the pain. I find myself lapsed into a memory I cannot catch, I find myself trying to figure out what it is in the room that is sad or lovely – was it that combination of words, or the look on his face? – what is it that has such a call on my unconscious attention, or my pituitary, or my alveolar cells.
“There is a part of me, I have realised, that wants to nurse the stranger on the bus. Or perhaps it wants to nurse the bus itself, or the tree I see through the window of the bus, or the child I once was, paying my fare on the way home from school. This occasional incontinence is terrifying. It makes me want to shout – I am not sure what. Either ‘Take it!’ or ‘Stop!’ If the world would stop needing, then my body would come back to me. My body would come home.

Note: Fiction writer Anne Enright will visit the Writers Institute on Thursday, October 2, 2008. She will hold an informal workshop at 4:15 PM in the Assembly Hall of the Campus Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus, 1400 Washington Ave. She will also present a reading of new work, and offer a Q&A at 7:30 PM [NOTE EARLY TIME CHANGE] in the Recital Hall of the Performing Arts Center on the uptown campus. Free and open to the public.

The Skull Beneath the Skin

Richard Widmark, an actor who has been called “the most frightening person on the screen” (David Thomson, The New Biographical Dictionary of Film), and “a star who mastered a new moral ambiguity (Dave Kehr, The New York Times), passed away on March 24th of this year at the age of 93.