Friday 28 December 2012

Refrigerator, 1957 [poem 1]

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,
aloof, slumming
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. 

Comment :-

In this poem, Lux skilfully reflects the history of consumer culture’s love affair with the objects they purchased and the attachment of happiness towards it. Only to fall out of love with the same when it either stops working, the wire is too frayed or when a new sleeker design hits the showroom floors.  In just few lines, we realise that there are so many memories attached to every object around us, be it an old deserted refrigerator on the back porch for years. So much history, family is contained within this refrigerator, memories that grow faint as children grow, parents die, people move to places out of town. Something you pass daily, perhaps, knowing there is history and stories attached to its existence as a working machine, all of it unknown and unrecoverable like singular drops of rain into a stream.

Lux’s use of words is something which makes the reader visualize lucid images.  The colour he described representing the Maraschino cherries, the various comparisons of cherries are the examples of his art in descriptive visualization and writing. The use of modern language in the poetry clearly displays the then changes taking place in the American culture during that particular era. Lux’s craftsmanship in regard to the free verse writing is commendable. 


  1. Lori Laitman has set this to music and it's wonderful--check it out on youtube.

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