A linocut print of a milk jug sitting next to half a lemon.

Substitutions for Buttermilk

Shelter in Place, 2020, Day 16  

Find acid to induce curdling– lemon or vinegar

so many things taste sour nowadays

let sit for 15 minutes

how quickly things can change

is half and half a better approximate?

I was only allowed one 
jug of milk at the store

Mixing butter and milk won’t do it
just another failure of language, like
social distancing or camera phone

there wasn’t any sugar in the store either,
they say it is like wartime almost,
victory gardens again, can we do
without with that much dignity?
I feel hardly as brave.

borrowing a cup from the neighbors seems risky,
never have we needed each other more

Maybe I will bake the cake next week
will we learn anything 
from this practice of waiting?

Maybe it will be safe to go out again before the fires come
nearby smoke, reason to stay inside,  
reason to prepare to leave quickly

Who has all the buttermilk, the sugar, the money
what are you saving it for?

When was toilet paper even invented?
we existed before it did,  
and prison cells, and 2-day delivery, ATM’s.

Didn’t buttermilk come from what was leftover, anyway?
after this, after all this,
can we make something sweet
from what is left behind?

Originally published in Index for the Next World, Issue 1