Lillian here, delighted to host today’s Poetics.
A refrigerator is something most of us take for granted. Unless we’re tent camping, lose our electricity, or because it dies of old age. Ours was on its last legs on June 25th. Note the date! City dwellers in a high-rise, we have a galley kitchen requiring a very narrow refrigerator. No one stocks them. We ordered ours, had to wait three weeks for delivery, and nursed along our old one in the meantime. New fridge arrives. Hurrah! One day later, its freezer totally frosts over with miniature stalactite icicles everywhere. Freezer compartment temperature control does not work. It froze a bottle of vodka! We call. Store says we must wait one week for a repair. Freezer food dumped. At least the fridge portion works. Appointed day arrives and the repair person calls. “I’ll be there at noon to fix your faulty door.” Faulty door? No. It’s the freezer. “Oh. Can’t fix that. You need a new one.” It is new. “Call the store and tell them you need a replacement.” Did that. “You need to come in to the store. Can’t do it on the phone.” Did that. “So sorry. It will take three weeks for delivery. We don’t stock those.” Three weeks with no freezer. Day arrives. They haul out the defective refrigerator and come back with paperwork in hand. Where’s our new refrigerator? “We don’t have a refrigerator on the truck for you. We were just supposed to pick up the old one.” It wasn’t an old one. It was a NEW one that DIDN’T work! “Sorry. We don’t have a refrigerator on the truck for you.” Many phone calls later, a manager apologizes and says “We can get a new one to you on October 5th.” Forget it! We dump all the food. We get a full refund, but we have no refrigerator! We call another store. Order another new refrigerator. It arrives September 18th and . . . ooh, ice cubes . . . ah, milk for cereal . . . ooh lettuce and salad dressing . . . ohhh ice cream! Yep, we now have cold food, ice cubes and . . . a refrigerator fetish!
For today’s prompt: walk into your kitchen and open your refrigerator. What’s in it? What’s way in the back on the bottom shelf? A jar of pickled herring? Hot mustard? Hearts of palm? What’s in your freezer? A bag of peas for use as an ice pack? Frozen bananas for smoothies? Close the doors. What’s on the outside? Magnets? Pictures? Kids’ drawings? Pick something specific that resides in, or on the outside of, your refrigerator. Let that be the inspiration for your poem. Include the specific item in the body of your poem. Include more than one item if you wish. Be fanciful or serious. Perhaps it will turn into a metaphor – or spur a memory. Take it at face value and write about the item or about your refrigerator….or let your imagination use the object as a jumping off place. Let’s all chill out with this one!
Refrigerator – 1957
by Thomas Lux
More like a vault — you pull the handle out
and on the shelves: not a lot,
and what there is (a boiled potato
in a bag, a chicken carcass
under foil) looking dispirited,
drained, mugged. This is not
a place to go in hope or hunger.
But, just to the right of the middle
of the middle door shelf, on fire, a lit-from-within red,
heart red, sexual red, wet neon red,
shining red in their liquid, exotic,
in such company: a jar
of maraschino cherries. Three-quarters
full, fiery globes, like strippers
at a church social. Maraschino cherries, maraschino,
the only foreign word I knew. Not once
did I see these cherries employed: not
in a drink, nor on top
of a glob of ice cream,
or just pop one in your mouth. Not once.
The same jar there through an entire
childhood of dull dinners — bald meat,
pocked peas and, see above,
boiled potatoes. Maybe
they came over from the old country,
family heirlooms, or were status symbols
bought with a piece of the first paycheck
from a sweatshop,
which beat the pig farm in Bohemia,
handed down from my grandparents
to my parents
to be someday mine,
then my child’s?
They were beautiful
and, if I never ate one,
it was because I knew it might be missed
or because I knew it would not be replaced
and because you do not eat
that which rips your heart with joy.