Dairy Milk

Fall, 2022 / No. 50

On a metal shelf, nine pods of bread in short

neat rows as though at the morgue, an aisle 

over from glue traps for mice. On pegs

round the corner, stuff for kids: dusty bags 

of balloons that seem to quietly cry out 

about missed birthdays. Handcuffs and gun.

Dairy Milk: a redundant name, I see now. 

And with all the appeal of a boiler room, hard 

to believe this bright, dusty place was my childhood

corner store, packed with wanted things. 

This is where my dad said, “Why not?

You’re a good kid,” and bought me two Superman

comics so that I was speechless a moment.

I believe I said thanks. It was unlike a quiet man. 

My mother enjoyed the happiness of others

the way you’d enjoy the warm glow of a fire, 

gone now over twenty years as I sail slowly

around corners here. The first few times someone 

dies or there’s a sudden change, it’s a few trees

falling, but the woods are still there. 

To be older is to notice clear fields. 

Well, fine. Let this store be a boiler room powering 

me when I mule-carry groceries for my children, 

pleased to pick them up from school. Can a room 

sense what it becomes to someone else? As though

on an assembly line, a room rolls down landscapes

of purpose, and finally off the map. Leaving 

the store, I bought a drink, asked about comics, 

but he laughed and said, “No more.”