Ní Ghriofa, Doireann, “A Ghost in the Throat” (Biblioasis, 2020).

In donating my milk, I want to help families in distress, yes, an urge sparked by empathy, but I suspect that something else is also involved: an immature, westernised idea of karma. At some level, I believe that the more helpful I can be to others, the more protection I might be acquiring for my own fledging family. In addition to this crude notion of karma, and my sympathy for imagined babies and their imagined families, there also lurks something else: an illusion of control. There is so much in my life that I cannot hope to control. I can’t control my nights of broken sleep. I can’t control the terrors that my mind chooses to review just as I close my eyes–the repetitive carousel of meningitis, comas, cars swept into oceans, house fires, or paedophiles. I can’t control our landlord’s whims, whether — or when –his voracity might lead us to moving house again. I can’t control my children’s chances of securing a place in the local primary school, whose enrollment policy (like most Irish schools) is predicated upon membership of the Catholic Church. I can, however, control the ritual of milk production: the sterilisation of bottles, the components of the pump slotted in their correct order, the painstaking necessity of record-keeping, every procedure that I choose to perform carefully and correctly. (31)

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