15 Excerpts from "Milk and Honey" That Hit Close to Home

Rupi Kaur is an Indian-born Canadian writer, poet, and performer. She is well known for her work such as Milk and Honey which was published in 2014 and The Sun and Her Flowers which was published in 2017. Today I am specifically going to focus on the former. Milk and Honey is a collection of usually-short poetry and prose. After it was published, it sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide and spent a little over a year on The New York Times Best Seller list.

                                                                          Image Courtesy of ColgateMaroonNews 

My personal feelings aside, Milk and Honey is an anthology of poetry and prose about the main theme of survival. It is divided into four segments: The Hurting, The Loving, The Breaking, and The Healing. Each chapter serves a different purpose as they explore themes such as violence, abuse, love, loss, and feminity. Other themes that are delved into involve triggering topics such as sexual assault, family trouble, and heartbreak. Kaur also breaks the traditional rules of poetry while also jumping back and forth inbetween first and second person pronouns as well as having a direct style.

These pages that I’ve selected (in no particular order of which is better) are what I personally feel are biting yet oddly beautiful in a way that it stings into me really hard as most of these I’ve dealt with in my so-far short life. If I’m being honest, coping with any recent problems I’ve ever had would have been much faster and easier had I read this earlier. Nevertheless if there’s anything I can thank Kaur for it’s the bittersweetness of being able to help heal at a more even pace even after I’ve lost close friends, relationships, and lost touch with people who I should’ve never been abandoned by.

Warning: Some of these excerpts deal with triggering topics such as rape, abuse, and trauma. Read at your own risk.

 

1) Page 19, “The Hurting”

“every time you

tell your daughter

you yell at her

out of love

you teach her to confuse

anger with kindness

which seems like a good idea

till she grows up to

trust men who hurt her

cause they look so much

like you

 

-to fathers with daughters

 

2) Page 23, “The Hurting”

“the idea that we are

so capable of love

but still choose

to be toxic”

 

3) Page 36, “The Hurting”

“our knees

pried open

by cousins

and uncles

and men

our bodies touched

by all the wrong people

that even in a bed full of safety

we are afraid”

 

4) Page 55, “The Loving”

“i am learning

how to love him

by loving myself”

 

5) Page 86, “The Breaking”

“he only whispers i love you

as he slips his hands

down the waistband

of your pants

 

this is where you must

understand the difference

between want and need

you may want that boy

but you certainly

don’t need him”

 

6) Page 108, “The Breaking”

“you were the most beautiful thing i’d ever felt till now. and i was convinced you’d remain the most beautiful thing i’d ever feel. do you know how limiting that it. to think that at such a ripe young age i’d experienced the most exhilarating person i’d ever meet. how i’d spend the rest of my life just settling . to think i’d tasted the rawest form of honey and everything else would be refined and synthetic. that nothing beyond this point would add up. that all the years beyond me could not combine themselves to be sweeter than you.”

 

7) Page 119, “The Breaking”

“you are snakeskin

and i keep shedding you somehow

my mind is forgetting

every exquisite detail

of your face

the letting go has

become the forgetting

which is the most

pleasant and saddest thing

to have happened”

 

8) Page 120, “The Breaking”

“you were not wrong for leaving

you were wrong for coming back

and thinking

you could have me

when it was convenient

and leave when it was not”

 

9) Page 132, “The Breaking”

“i am confident i am over you. so much that some mornings i wake up with a smile on my face and my hands pressed together thanking the universe for pulling you out of me. thank god i cry. thank god you left. i would not be the empire i am today if you had stayed,

but then.

there are some nights i imagine what i might do if you showed up. how if you walked into the room this very second every awful thing you’ve ever dne would be tossed out the closet window and all the love would rise up again. it would pour through my eyes as if it never really left in the first place. as if it’s been practicing how to stay silent so long only so it could be this loud on your arrival. can someone explain that. how even when the love leaves. it doesn’t leave. how even when i am so past you. i am so helplessly brought back to you.”

 

10) Page 139, “The Breaking”

“you leave

but you don’t stay gone

why do you do that

why do you

abandon the thing you want to keep

why do you linger

in a place you do not want to stay

why do you think it’s okay to do both

go and return all at once”

 

11) Page 141, “The Breaking”

“that is the thing about selfish people. they gamble entire beings. entire souls to please their own. once second they are holding you like the world in your lap and the next they have belittled you to a mere picture. a moment. something of the past. one second. they swallow you up and whisper they want to spend the rest of their life with you. but the moment they sense fear. they are already halfway out the door. without the nerve to let you go with grace. as if the human heart means that little to them.

and after all this. after all of the taking. the nerve. isn’t it sad and funny how people have more guts these days to undress you with their fingers than they do to pick up the phone and call. apologize. for the loss. and this is how you lose her.

 

- selfish

 

12) Page 151, “The Healing”

“accept that you deserve more

than painful love

life is moving

the healthiest thing

for your heart is

to move with it”

 

13) Page 164. “The Healing”

“you tell me

i am not like most girls

and learn to kiss me with your eyes closed

something about the phrase—something about

how i have to be unlike the women

i call sisters in order to be wanted

makes me want to spit your tongue out

like i am supposed to be proud you picked me

as if i should be relieved you think

i am better than them”

 

14) Page 177, “The Healing”

“apparently it is ungraceful of me

to mention my period in public

cause the actual biology

of my body is too real

 

it is okay to sell what’s

between a woman’s legs

more than it is okay to

mention its inner workings

 

the recreational use of

this body is seen as

beautiful while

its nature is

seen as ugly”

 

15) Page 179, “The Healing”

“i want to apologize to all the women

i have called pretty

before i’ve called them intelligent of brave

i am sorry i made it sound as though

something as simple as what you’re born with

is the most you have to be proud of when your

spirit has crushed mountains

from now on i will say things like

you are resilient or you are extraordinary

not because i don’t think you’re pretty

but because you are so much more than that”