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Refrigerator 1957

 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.

by Thomas Lux
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