by Tara Przybille Bradley

She creates the taste and smell

of memories

for her family

Dust and peaches

The climate

Heat in the night of summer

The cricket chirps

belong to her

A child in bed, sweat under his hair

stuffy, in pajamas too warm for a night

like this

The sound of mother in the kitchen

the cupboard doors close

silverware being sorted

And he can hear it from outside his window

Clear, heavy

and feel it through his mattress

Affirmation of safety

Sister cries for water

Mother’s footfalls light and quick

the scent of garden weeds on her fingers

metallic taste of water in the glass

Newspaper rustles from the Bigchair

in the living room. Green shag

growing over Father’s feet.

The dull thunk of his glass on the end table

muted voices, her laughter

This is what she gives them all

0 thoughts on “Unknowingly

  1. Funny how memories lack seemingly deliberated choice; there’s a part of ourselves deep in psyche that may, and figuring out why makes for good mystery…perhaps based on what we may “Unknowingly” value in life.
    The poem brings out so much ‘sensory perception’ as relates family memories. Even though “Unknowingly” is told from the subjective perspective, its picturesque descriptions of hearth and home strike an almost universal cord. I remember living with my friend in an old house for about 2 years…with no central air/heat and everything was old or broken. I put a box fan by my window, turned it on high, and lay right in front. Of course, with the window open, there was this one cricket who decided to get up on the sill and chirp…this kept me up until like 3a.m…I even went outside and whacked the bushes to get him to go away, but he kept coming back! In the winter we turned on our electric blankets an hour before leaving the heated living room (doorways covered with blankets); and then one morning I got up and the water in the toilet was frozen!
    Happy times!
    Cool poem!

  2. hey fogman, how goes the grind? good to hear from you. this is a memory. mine. i don’t really know why it ended up being from a little boy’s perspective. i think the boy is my own son so many years ago. so in this piece i am the child, but so is my son. my mom is the mother, but so am i.
    but most of this is my memory. my son didn’t have a dad growing up. just me and his sister. the sister in this poem is most likely my daughter. i have two sisters and a brother. the peaches…that was me canning peaches at 2am in the dead of summer. and the laughter was mine. my mom loved us all lots, but she didn’t laugh much. as a matter of fact, i can’t bring up any memories of me seeing her laugh.
    anyway, i wish i’d written:
    “in the living room. Green shag
    growing over Father’s feet.
    The dull thunk of his [beer bottle] on the end table”

  3. “the grind” has taken unexpected turns. thanks for asking. as for your poem, I kind of suspected it was memory that perhaps borrows freely from your present life – life as a child shaded by life as a mother. The background is interesting. I hadn’t really noticed it being from a boy’s perspective, but probably only because that was expressed in the third-person. “beer bottle” is definitely better than “glass”, especially in the context of the concise imagery you used throughout. Again, really nice poem Tara.

  4. History is what you give them while you’re busy doing what needs doing.
    The poem; Meaning insinuates subtly into the regularity of it all, making normal as mysterious as emerging butterflies and as foundational as pairing peanut butter with bread.
    The recognition; acceptance of the separation of child and parent makes you smaller and more vulnerable. It is a mercy that such moments come after you are supposed to be asleep. The sound of the world going on fine without you is unsettling, mundane, and just a bit voyeuristic. It is in those moments away that the idea you might be just part of something and not the center enters into the picture. The birth of self comes at that cost. You’re you. The world was and will be here when you aren’t.
    The exposition: Do your own dishes, lazy good-for-nothing bastard. You’re not reading the paper. Put it down and get your ass in here. So you work all day. Big deal. Your day isn’t over because mine isn’t either. I wash; you dry. That was the deal, remember?

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