Today, while doing a menial chore, cleaning out the refrigerator –
I found two wrist corsages - just alike - miniature white roses,
Tied with a white satin ribbon, the ones Mama received at church
On “Honoring Widows” Sunday –
Those past two years...
Nestled in clear plastic containers, in the bottom of the refrigerator,
Way in the back, on either side of the box of Arm & Hammer baking soda
That needed replacing ages ago.
Corsages tucked away for preserving, just as a Christmas cactus might be
Tucked away in a cellar or cool basement.
Dumping old jars of relishes and jellies, some sprouting viridian colors,
Some, there since before mama died. The horseradish sauce I bought her,
The kind she liked to put on a sandwich, to give it that extra little “bite,”
The tall plastic container of cayenne pepper, outdated two years ago,
The jar of Green Tomato Pepper Butter we had canned together.
How I miss those days, working together in the kitchen,
Mama and daughter, side by side.
She took such pleasure in sharing with others –
Mama enjoyed seeing someone’s eyes light up when she gave them
Some of her homemade sourdough rolls or honey wheat bread.
I’m not sure why I’ve held on to all of these things,
Things I knew were of no real value.
Yet, somehow having them near me meant she wasn’t really gone.
Today, I threw away the outdated bottles and jars,
Yet, tucked the two plastic containers back in the bottom of the refrigerator,
One on either side of the baking soda,
Just where she would have wanted them to stay.
White corsages - cool, distant, preserved.
Just like the cellar cactus – tucked away, safe for another day,
When I need to remember.
Deborah Elaine Richard is a member of South Carolina Writers’ Workshop and West Virginia Writers, Inc. She is the recipient of an Honorable Mention in the 2010 Joyful! Poetry Contest, and her poems have appeared in Grab-a-Nickel (Alderson-Broaddus College), Holler (Princeton Poetry Project), Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine, The Shine Journal, WestWard Quarterly, and The Storyteller. Ms. Richard's first book, a chapbook of poetry entitled “Resiliency,” was published in November 2012 by Finishing Line Press of Georgetown, Kentucky. Her web page is www.debbierichard.com.