After a Beer
She laughs until the red dye
in her cheeks flows upstream,
staining the whites of her eyes.
Sleep pounds at her eyelids,
electricity rolling down.
Like pushing open an elevator,
she fights it as she fights me.
Her tongue passes currents, muttering:
How horrible you are,
voice slanted like lightning.
I’m already attempting
to halt my brain from encoding
this scene into long-term memory.
I used to milk my black-coated goat
in the mornings before school.
She slams the bamboo door between us.
We developed an alliance without words:
most days she’d let me finish
squeezing out her udders
even after she smashed
and swallowed the last of her grain.
The door slides open again, my skin burns under her stare.
Once, I milked her during a thunderstorm
so that her teats wouldn’t crack open
from holding the extra milk all day.
“That was bad, what you did,” her mouth is frozen butter.
Her hooves slipped on the milk stand,
both legs flopping onto wet wood.
Kicking and kicking, she flung milk
from the yogurt container and stepped,
poop-covered foot and all, into the froth.
“You’ll feel better if you sleep,” I tell her,
voice a lit candle, flickering.
I milked and milked while the lightning
flashed everything emerald, saying sorry
while she thrashed, head trying to break free
from the contraption that held her.
But of course she doesn’t understand.
Tears splash my face like rain.
About Aozora Brockman
Aozora Brockman grew up on an organic vegetable farm in Central Illinois, and her close contact with chickens and goats made her all the more aware of the ambiguous boundary between humans and animals. “After a Beer” is part of a broader manuscript of poems that stem from experiences she had while caring for her Japanese grandmother, who is battling Alzheimer’s disease. Her creative work has been published in the Split Rock Review and the Cortland Review.