A doe rests after
her labor, while two
fawns teeter nearby. She
licks her young whenever
they bury their heads
into her stomach
to nurse, licks whatever
she can reach, which is
usually one of their
butts. She licks compulsively
across the animal kingdom,
this mother, licks birth
from the fur, licks
dirt from the eyes.
A mother laps at
a wound, saliva soothing
pain and clotting blood.
A mom licks her thumb
to clean dirty cheeks,
lay flat unruly hair.
When I was young,
my mom’s tongue swiped
ice cream from my cone
to protect my shirt
and, more likely, steal
something sweet for herself.