21 January 2018

On the Verge of Gone

The milk. It has been in there for two weeks past the expiration date. Unscrew the cap anyway. Wipe off the seal. Peering into the jug reveals no curds, at
least that can be seen by the naked eye. Good sign, maybe. Do you want to take the chance? Cereal is no good with water on it, right? Water on cereal. Yes, that happened once. Never want to be that low again. So, what to do. The kicker will be the sniff test. No getting around it. Lift the jug. Breathe in deep.

Then fall down a rabbit hole of memory, the lingering sweet dairy aroma undercut with the faintest undertone of curdling. The kitchen is different, but standing at the sink is the same. The hands engaged in myriad domestic entanglements, the mind drifting to thoughts of warmth and affection after the dishes are done. A carton of milk sits on the counter, awaiting transport back to the refrigerator. Other groceries surround the carton, the results of grocery shopping shared with someone, a way to take the drudgery out of chores.

The light in this kitchen is different than the one in which you pace nowadays. The light seems better, warmer, welcoming. This is the difference between a house that knew love and a glorified cell harboring cold desperation. The routine once known as an incubator of good feeling no longer exists. Time and distance have seen to it. But what peculiar cruelty arisen from the banality of sliced white bread and a container of milk. This is what hurts.

It used to be the groceries could be put away and the hands were freed up to seek out touch. To wrap arms around warmth. Fingers resting on the gentle curve of hips, drawing closer to a kiss and shared breath. The simple acknowledgement of a humanity close to the soul, near impossible to find any other way. Travel in time and space. A miracle contained in the molecules of milk on its way to immortality.

Two weeks old, approaching undrinkability, but there is little choice to do otherwise. Snap. The cord breaks. The eyes water. Once again at the counter on a gray morning, bewildered with jug in hand. It is almost spoiled, it won’t be long. Bitterness and hunger leave no options. The milk is poured. The cereal downed. The stomach lurches and the heart spasms at the scent of milk on the verge of gone.

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"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...