“My Mother’s Freezer” by Michael Mark

Michael Mark


Again, he climbs the three-step
step stool, pauses to catch his breath,
then folds his five-foot-four
inches over
then over and scooches
against the bumpy ice. Stabbing
back some with a screwdriver,
he tucks his bluish knees
and brown-socked feet, closes
himself in.
A sonogram of the freezer
would reveal a foil-covered cube
of potato kugel, Hanukah 1973
written in her hand, a Polaroid
she magic-markered on the back, Catskills,
Summer 1957, two scarves
her mother knitted, mummy-wrapped
in foggy cellophane and my dad
curled into a fetal position, the cold
freezing his tears.
This last part’s not true.
Of course his tears don’t freeze
in her freezer—which she’d swore, “not only
keeps everything as it was, it makes
them even younger”—they roll up
into his eyes, glaucoma and cataract-free
again, the years, months, days, clicking backwards
as he talks with her, shivering—touched
where she touched.

from Visiting Her in Queens Is More Enlightening than a Month in a Monastery in Tibet
2022 Rattle Chapbook Prize Winner


Michael Mark: “I think of this collection as a family photo album. As my mother’s dementia progresses, each poem is at once a snapshot, a foreshadowing and a memory. And like memories, each is revealing, accurate, and blurry.​” (web)

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