Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Honey and Stigma, Istanbul

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Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER) is a breastfeeding anomaly that causes an experience of dysphoria before milk ejection, thought to occur due to an inappropriate drop in dopamine when oxytocin rises to provide milk release. At its most severe, it may lead to anxiety, hopelessness, a sense of doom. In milder form, the feeling is more akin to homesickness or wistfulness.

When the milk comes down like nightfall,
nostalgia reeks of onions and camphor
in the corner apartment of Baghdad Street.
Come, I will swathe you in Grandmother's
linens, starched with Arabic soap and lemons.

Your suckling prunes a hollow in my pine,
heartwood and pith, hüzün. Sap seals the scars
on childhood knees; how high we climbed!
One day, we too, will tally meteors from
behind a curtain of honeysuckle and linden.

Hibiscus corolla of your lips, wrap me
in nyctinasty, draw the bittersweet
longing from my pistil, honey and stigma.
Feast, child, on the syrup of my memories,
each molecule of regret hungered for, devoured.


Selin Tuysuzoglu Sagalowsky is a pediatric emergency medicine physician and mother of two who has rediscovered writing about motherhood and medicine. She studied creative writing at Harvard College, where she was recipient of the Joan Gray Untermeyer Poetry Prize and the Quincy House David McCord Arts Prize.


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