In My Memory
our child-selves are hungry. It is only two, but no lunch at noon is no lunch at noon. Our mother kneels and heats baked beans in a brown-gold floral pot over a small fire, scraping the bottom with an orphaned serving spoon in time with “Have You Ever Seen the Rain.” Dad and I make sandwiches at a picnic table. He slices summer sausage with a pocket knife, snacks on mixed nuts, and tells me to put more mayo on his bread. You sit with a bag of Doritos in the dirt near my hanging toes. A chipmunk rides the wave of its own back to a fallen branch and watches you drop chips only to pick them up and eat them. We have all noticed him, but you keep eating. Our mother stops stirring, and I hold my plastic knife still. Silent, like a deer, our father kneels and lays prone in front of you both. He clicks his tongue, tender noises, and holds out a peanut. You knew to watch and keep quiet. The chipmunk takes the offering—waits for another. On the fourth, you trill like the bird you had tattooed on your hip at seventeen and Dad, our step-father, slaps you for the first time, our mother stirs, and I spread mayo on bread.
Runner-up in the 2021 Poetry Chapbook Contest
Camping was a constant in my childhood and so many of my poems revolve around images of nature, food, and family. Violence was also a constant growing up. “In My Memory” attempts to present the combination of love with violence that existed in a setting that I cherished growing up. The poem, in combination with others in my manuscript Building Fires, points to feelings of guilt and offers witness to what was usually ignored.
Alexis Kruckeberg received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. She tends to cook more food than is necessary and daydreams about traveling to Mexico. Her poetry has appeared in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Barely South Review, and others. She has work forthcoming in Sequestrum.