CHOCOLATE MILK RITUAL
Chocolate Milk Ritual
by Alan Harnum
Some summer after Our Mother died
Our Father took us east to PEI;
in the A-frame on the red beach I
read trilogies one after another.
Later we took a car ferry to Vermont,
where Our Mother once frowned at
banana ice cream and Our Father
had outstanding parking tickets.
We drove to Toronto, bought Gardnerian
paperbacks from little used bookstores;
J---- must have been at least seventeen,
so I was at best twenty.
I remember: we spoke about the art of
fiction, that bad Brother to the art
of memory; we drank a litre each of
sun-warm gas-station chocolate milk.
Then, synchronicity, threw up
violently into plastic snack bowls,
one vivid yellow, one deep blue; I've
not drunk chocolate milk since.
Our Father pulled to the roadside
and we dumped them, believing they
held all the exact black body
radiation of Our Mother's body.
And I've not drunk chocolate milk
since, but rarely I dream that families
of deer come softly from the highway's
sheathing woods; they sniff the vivid
poisons of the bowls, aspiring
to drink, then turn their antlered
heads and go.