Milk by Jessica Goodfellow


Because we were waiting for the end of days, we drank
only powdered milk, rotating out the old stuff stock-

piled in the basement, date coming due, as we bought
its replacement boxes, the new expiration dates.

I’d wake sometimes after midnight to the whirring
of the blender, my mother having also woken panicked

that she’d forgotten to mix up milk for the next day’s breakfast.
Bluish, thin as water, suspicious in its froth, it flooded

our sugarless cereal, it fluffed our dehydrated potato flakes,
but we rarely drank it from a glass. Or cup. Or mug.

Sometimes we’d swallow a clot of undissolved powder
and gag. Once a friend’s mother apologized, ‘Sorry,

we’ve only got 1%,’ and handed me a glass—one gulp
and my tongue and throat were coated and I almost couldn’t

breathe. The canned peas, the reconstituted soy-based meat
substitute we swallowed docilely, waiting for the end. For

an end. To the stories. Of a land that flowed with milk
and honey. For I had drunk the milk. And there was no honey.


Jessica Goodfellow’s poetry books are Whiteout (University of Alaska Press, 2017), Mendeleev’s Mandala, and The Insomniac’s Weather Report. A former writer-in-residence at Denali National Park and Preserve, she’s had poems in The Southern Review, Ploughshares, Scientific American, Verse Daily, Motionpoems, and Best American Poetry. Jessica lives and works in Japan.