Two paragraph excerpts from the first chapter of W.D. Blackmon’s Blood and Milk:

Thursday afternoon about three-thirty, Becky was coming back to see her mother for the third time since the night before. Her mother was sleeping a great deal more than she had before, but hadn’t taken any morphine since the night before. Some were encouraged she was sleeping so much, and some were worried. Becky knew Claire was in with her grandmother, and that comforted her. Becky was leading Ruby into the living room when she heard a faint gasp for air in the sunroom. It was an eerie sound, and it made Becky sort of weak in the knees. She heard Virginia say in faint disbelief, “She’s gone, Alice . . . .” The scream that everyone in the house heard next from Becky seemed like the most natural thing in the world, “MA-MA!” The kids playing in the basement heard it. The teenagers on the second floor heard it. Her sisters in the kitchen heard it as clearly as if it had come from their own lips. Becky herself did not even realize she had screamed, and she had screamed with all her might, and more. This cry of anguish came from so deep inside her it started long before she was born, and echoed long after her own death. There could be no sound before that sound, and no sound after it. This was entirely appropriate, because that’s exactly how deeply Becky loved her mother.


When her baby’s gums slipped off her nipple with kind of a pop, she got kind of a new perspective on things. Things had been happening so fast, so overwhelmingly. She took an instant to take the long view, her baby hugged to her breast. Looking at the chaos of our exploding universe, human life was an absolute miracle--from any way you choose to look at it. Everything had to be totally right to create and sustain it. A million, million variables had to align with exquisite precision for this perfection to happen--the tilt and rotation of the earth had to be just so, the distance from the sun, the pull of the moon, and all the elaborately interconnected orbits . . . . Given this, anything seemed possible. Still, she also knew, as she felt the heat and spirit from her baby (and his heart beating so strongly against her), and felt him begin to nurse again, that this was her truest immortality.