Spilt Milk




The poem was inspired by the experience and anxiety caused by not being able to get basic supplies for a short while in the early days of pandemic lockdown last year. With a young baby, this was of a particular worry to my wife. The poem imagines a slightly more extreme version than reality, and how easy it is for us to take for granted our ready access to basic supplies - and how quickly they could disappear.

I found my love crying in the kitchen
when we still used it as a kitchen
before it became bathroom and storehouse too
before our house was split in two
and we downsized to the downstairs

I found her crying in the kitchen
months of worry and frustration stockpiled
weeks of waiting for bread (before flour ran out)
of refilling buckets from the standpipe
we never knew existed three streets away

I found my wife crying in the kitchen
a pool of white liquid on the floor
her hands shaking clutching the empty jar
I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry she said
it’s only milk I said we’ll queue again next month

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