Milk & Honey

A book of poetry and prose

dear reader,

milk and honey is a collection of poetry about love, loss, trauma, abuse, healing, and femininity. it is split into four chapters. each chapter serves a different purpose. deals with a different pain. heals a different heartache. it takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them. because there is sweetness everywhere. if you are just willing to look.

milk and honey released oct 5 2015 in the USA and canada. within its first week it dominated the number one spot for poetry in both these countries. it currently stands at #1 on amazon.com’s bestsellers list for poetry by women and has been in the top ten consistently for other categories.

this is a collection of photos which serve as a visual representation of what the book is about. we wanted to show the work that goes into a project like this. the long labourous hours. the dedication. the sweat. the giving. we wanted the reader to witness what happens to the author before the author finally gives the book. we hope you enjoy it.

love and light,
rupi kaur & naomi wood

the recipe

the poems in milk and honey are not easy to swallow. when you talk about abuse it is never easy. the poems are painful. the poems are terrifying. but writing about such trauma is healing. and that’s why we shot ‘the recipe’. for rupi herself writing milk and honey was a cathartic experience. so we showcase the book as a recipe book in this series. a recipe book for healing. a recipe book for peace and tranquil- ity. and milk and honey are the ingredients. the milk is smooth. cooling. and clean- ing. the honey is sweet. warming. and healing. the two of them together is a perfect balance.

 

if
he can’t help but
degrade other women
when they’re not looking
if toxicity is central
to his language
he could hold you
in his lap and be soft
honey
that man could feed you sugar and douse you in rose water but that still could not
make him sweet

– page 99

you look like you smell of honey and no pain
let me have a taste of that

– page 66

i hope the milk spills through you and the honey sweetens the way

the thing
worth holding on to would not have let go

– page 102

how is it so easy for you
to be kind to people
he asked

milk and honey dripped from my lips as i answered

cause people have not been kind to me

– page 11

ferment 

‘ferment’ dissects one of the ingredients in ‘the recipe’: the honey. we witness the author fermenting in honey. her body hibernating within her pain and making it her strength. this is her allowing it to heal the wounds. so she can evolve from her current state of melancholy.

 

you must have known
you were wrong
when your fingers
were dipped inside me searching for honey
that would not come for you

– page 101

our backs
tell stories
no books have the spine to carry

– women of color

– page 171

cleanse

‘cleanse’ dissects the other ingredient in ‘the recipe’: the milk. we witness the author soaking in milk. an old punjabi practise in india. mothers would bathe their children in milk to keep their skin soft and bright. the author bathes in the milk to become new again. cleansed. fresh. she washes off the honey. and is ready to face the world.

 

he asks me to show him something i take the tips of my fingers
place them inside his forearm
and graze them down his wrist goose bumps rise to the surface

i see his mouth clench muscles tighten
his eyes pour into mine as though i’m the reason for making them blink

i break gaze just as he inches toward me

i step back

– page 62

you have spent enough nights
with his manhood curled inside your legs to forget what loneliness feels like

– page 91

i am undoing you from my skin – page 112

how did i not see that. how. did i sit here soaking in the idea that no one else would love me that way. when it was i that taught you. when it was i that showed you how to fill. the way i needed to be filled.

– page 138

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

– page 36

she looks at me with defeated eyes
the way a parent looks at their child when they know this is the type of pain even they can’t fix

-page 82

i am learning how to love him by loving myself

– page 55

poetry & art direction – rupi kaur
photography – naomi wood