The Early Days

This piece flew out of me as I was drafting other prose poems for inclusion in my book-length project, My Father’s Son, a collection of prose poems that centers on the speaker’s fascination with and estrangement from his own father as he becomes a father himself. “The Early Days” is meant to be a surreal take on the fog of early parenthood.

The whole world’s oceans have turned to milk, and I’m wearing a t-shirt with a milk carton on it. There’s milk in the horses’ troughs and milk bottles littering the streets. There are milk stains on every mustache and loggers are quitting their jobs to work dairy farms. There are milk floods and milk rain, an anti-milk coalition, milk lobbyists. Milk in the clouds and milk in vending machines like it always was, except it’s more popular than ever. Milk on my tongue. Milk droplets clinging to your knees and milk soothing our aching bones. There is life in the milk, too, and milk is life. There is milk running out of my eyes like tears and milk replacing bullets in guns. The opposite of fire is not water. It’s milk. Milk drowns and sustains, leaks out of our son’s mouth. There is milk on canvas. Milk evaporated, nestled in cans. And there is a childhood consumed with hunger, a want so deep, coiled in the waking hours of these first nights.

Luke Wortley is a writer living in Indianapolis, Indiana. His fiction and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Inch, Hobart, Best Microfictions, Pithead Chapel, Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWortley or by visiting