Milk Warehouse and Ice Archive by Eva Heisler
Editorial intern Katelyn Grandy on today’s bonus short-short: Eva Heisler’s “Milk Warehouse and Ice Archive” drills into the captivating rabbit holes of atmospheric history and motherhood. A frozen treat that lingers within us like cinder in arctic ice.
Milk Warehouse and Ice Archive
In the Reykjavik warehouse of MS Iceland Dairies, Charlotte passed pallets of Nýmjólk and Léttmjólk, Kókómjólk in child-size boxes with purple cats promising Þú færð kraft úr Kókómjólk, Súrmjólk, Súrmjólk jarðaberja, Hrísmjólk, AB mjólk, Létt AB mjólk, Biomjólk.
Charlotte was directed to the deep-freeze unit. There, among stacked bins of ice cream, she found it: the ice core from Greenland. Centuries of weather in a cylinder of ice.
A scientist, muffled in snow suit, welcomed Charlotte to his ad hoc lab. It was 1997, and the only spot in Reykjavik cold enough to preserve the ice core was in the milk warehouse. His breath made tiny clouds as he spoke of isotopes, volcanic ash, sea salts, cosmic particles, and aerosol particles. He pointed to the contrast in color between dust and snow, the “horizons” of time. Ice-writ records of Paleolithic dust, Victorian soot, and forest fires.
There, perhaps, a record of atmospheric disturbances in 1986. In January, four months pregnant, Charlotte had watched on television the faces of school children as the Challenger exploded seventy-three seconds after launching. In April, seven months pregnant, she had listened to accounts of the Chernobyl disaster as she stood in the baby’s room and considered color swatches: English Yellow; Golden Honey; Golden Straw; Daffodil Yellow; Pale Moon; Sun-Kissed Yellow. Eleven years later, she was shivering among pallets of ice cream. In her all-weather coat, she studied a cylinder of ice, thinking “Daughter.” My daughter, weather.
“Anything in the atmosphere may end up in an ice core.” That would be the only fact she would remember.
Eva Heisler has published two books of poetry: Reading Emily Dickinson in Icelandic (Kore Press) and Drawing Water (Noctuary Press). Honors include the Poetry Society of America's Emily Dickinson Award and fellowships at the Millay Colony for the Arts and the MacDowell Colony.