The Farmer’s Milk

April 18, 2016


John Yu Branscum has published work in journals ranging from Evergreen Review to Chiron Review. He is a professor of English Studies, co-editor of Sarabande Books’ literary anthology Red Holler, author of the poetry collection Skinwalkers, and literary editor for the international, post-punk fashion and literature magazine Black & Grey. As well, he is the father of Francesca Lu, a toddler who has recently invented a hybrid dance style incorporating Tai Chi and dancehall hip-hop, and Vivianne, a five-year-old who is training to be an astronaut princess.

Every Monday morning,
he would appear wind-burnt
at our door, a dour man
with the toughened skin
of horned lizards
and the inscrutable face
of the praying
would appear
as if the earth periodically
split and spit him out
to get certain jobs done.

What he had to sell
was not sold elsewhere.
The eggs –
not the blank
white plaster
eggs of the grocery store
but rather tea-
colored, elegant alien skulls
cool in my palms.
These charmed me.
But the milk?
I hated it.
How could something
so disturbingly textured be
Why would anyone
purposefully pierce the cream
placenta choking the neck
of the jug?
Why would anyone
intentionally take it inside
their mouth?

One afternoon,
after the farmer left,
my mother made a cake
for my birthday.
When she cracked an egg
on the plastic lip of the mixing
bowl, a half-formed miniature
something flopped into the batter
to be buried inside the whirr
of the blender’s blades.
“It’s time you know,”
she told me.
Reaching across the table,
she lifted a glass
of the farmer’s milk
to her mouth
and drank.

© John Yu Branscum

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