The next day Randy, my new boss’s sister,
drives me to the grocery store.
This is a shock in itself: that food is something
you have to be driven to, that you don’t hopscotch
across the street in untied shoes and wrinkled house dress
clasping the rolled bills in one palm,
keys in the other.
I want milk, I tell her. We weave a jetlag path
around skyscrapers of cereal, a fortress of tea.
We walk and walk and look! we have arrived at a city
of white bottles and cartons, twelve deep,
shelves upon shelves of labels.
Which one is the milk? Wait,
they are all? Back in Bulgaria
there is one kind. Cow’s milk, the label reads.
It comes in a plastic pouch
that flops in your hands. One size.
How do I choose?
I thought milk was only ever itself, an absolute.
Like snow comes only in the shape of snow.
I am paralyzed
by this dairy army. My grandparents raised cows
for a few years, I know
where milk comes from. I must have missed something.
When I wasn’t looking,
did the snow too
fall in so many denominations?