milk carton blues

by zippy

I bought some milk today
a half gallon of 2 percent
and a quart of skim
it was right between
the large curd cottage cheese
and the lactose intolerant soy milk

the 2 percent looked very familiar
but I wasn't sure why
maybe it was the smiling cow
with the sad brown eyes
until I noticed
as I was putting it in the fridge
top shelf next to the super-sized
jar of green olives
that the cow was not a cow
but my smiling brown-eyed daughter
pierced-nosed-grinning at me
from her waxy yearbook picture

i know I just saw her
i think it was 2 days ago
maybe 3
walking from the bathroom
to her bedroom
with a damp towel wrapped
around her bobbing head
pink rubber flip-flops slap-slapping
the hardwood floor
in beat to the hip-hop tune
banging in her head
i think she waved when I said hi
i'm almost certain

the school hasn't called this week
as they usually do
to discuss her latest breach
of student etiquette
but I never noticed

the last call I got
from the tattoo parlor
to verify permission
was a month ago
and i never thought twice
about the fact
that I've had hot showers
all week
or that I haven't smelled cigarette smoke
seeping from under her door

the more I look
at the wax-covered
smiling-eyed not-so-innocent
on the 2 percent milk carton
the less it looks like her
the less it looks
like I remember her
i guess I should ask her mother
i can't remember
the last time
i saw
her mother . . .

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