Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Poem: My Mother’s 1950’s Refrigerator by Maria Gillan

My Mother’s 1950’s Refrigerator

My mother had this 1950’s refrigerator, the kind
with the small freezer built inside where the ice
would build up like stalagmites and the motor
would whir when it signaled that the temperature
inside was going up. My mother earned her living
with a needle. Sometimes we’d play around her
when she sewed in the old brown rocker,
the basting threads piling like clouds around her.
We pretended we were jumping off cliffs when we’d climb
on the arm of the sofa and jump off, though we’d jump
quietly so she wouldn’t know, because children
were supposed to be seen and not heard. The twenty-five
cents an hour that she earned provided the pennies
she’d give us to buy cones at Burke’s ice cream parlor.
I think sometimes of the cartons of blueberries I buy
at $3.95 a pint and remember my mother’s refrigerator
that was always full of homemade food—bread, meatballs,
braciola, spinach, broccoli rabe, but no blueberries,
this small berry I didn’t taste until I was a grown woman
and married myself, and I imagine my mother’s horror
at the thought of her spoiled daughter paying $3.95 a pint
for blueberries just because she wants them.

By Maria Mazziotti Gillan
from The Place I Call Home (NYQ Books)