The Whispering Fridge · Janet Buck

Mother was the practical voice
among the ruins.
"She's been dead a week.
We have to clean out the fridge.
Bring rubber gloves ...
God knows what we'll find."
I wasn't amused. But I went,
as if could guard your memory
from trite complaints
that surface to release such grief.
One foot in the present mess;
the other in a relished past.

The milk was sour.
On cardboard spouts,
a touch of Revlon's Devil Red
that said your lips
refused to bother with a glass.
Cheesecake turned a swampish green.
Potatoes had multiple eyes.
While mine lived blind
to your colorful flaws.
Six apples left I hadn't peeled.
A jar of jam a decade old --
under its lid a gray mold scar
of suffering on top of seeds.
White tuna for your Persian cat.
The can had whiskers in its bowl.

All our midnight meetings there
came back to me -- a rush
of pennies falling from a latch-less purse
turned upside-down in effigy.
The day we licked pink frosting
off your birthday cake,
lunged at the sugar and cream,
left shiny forks inside the drawer.
I wasn't prepared for blizzard chills
so stinging and so permanent
they tore the month of August out
from pages of the calendar.