memories in the refrigerator

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Julie Rohan Zoch

 

Afternoon Memory


by Gary Soto

Sometimes I’ll look in the refrigerator


And decide that the mustard is vaguely familiar

,
And that the jar of Spanish olives is new to me.


What’s this gathering? The butter


And salsa, the two kinds of tortillas


And, in back, the fat-waisted Mrs. Butterworth.


I’ll study the plate of cross-legged chicken,


And close the refrigerator and lean on the kitchen counter.


Is this old age? The faucet drips

.
The linoleum blisters when you walk on it.


The magnets on the refrigerator crawl down


With the gravity of expired coupons and doctor bills.


Sometimes I’ll roll my tongue in my mouth.


Is this thirst or desire?

Is this pain


Or my foot going to sleep? I know the factory


Inside my stomach has gone quiet.


My hair falls as I stand. My lungs are bean plants


Of disappearing air. My body sends signals, like now:


A healthy fleck is floating across my vision.


I watch it cross. It’s going to attack a virus


On the right side of my body


And, later, travel down my throat to take care of knee

sour liver,Little latch of hurt. I swallow three times.


I have to help my body parts. Fellas, sour liver


And trusty kidney, I’m full of hope.


I open the refrigerator.


blow dart of bran,I’ve seen this stuff before. What’s this?


The blow dart of bran? Chinese ginger?


No, fellas, they’re carrots. The orange, I hear,


Is good for your eyes.

 
“Afternoon Memory” by Gary Soto from New and Selected Poems. © Chronicle Books, 1995

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