memories in the refrigerator


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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