| words that get in your teeth

Unapparent – Miriam Kramer

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When my mom was seven, her mother forgot 

her at the grocery store. Grandma Ethel left 

her playing with a family of canned vegetables. 

She made it all the way home, unpacked 


her paper bags with care: potatoes 

she would later burn, chicken that would remain 

raw in the center. She cradled 

the glass bottle of milk, placing 


it in the refrigerator whose door housed 

none of my mom’s artwork, before 

realizing she was missing her daughter. 

She rushed back to the store; my mom looked up 


from her makeshift dolls, having spent 

the past hour unaware she was alone. 

She was studious in invisibility, 

these cruel lessons masquerading as care. 


The doctors told Grandma 

that my mom was allergic to milk. 

Refusing to believe a child could grow 

without lactose, my grandmother served her a glass 


with every meal. A daily spoonful 

of poisoned disregard. She spent her childhood 

knowing she was her mother’s second favorite. 

Her brother’s boyness made him better, 


he warmed Grandma’s heart, despite the time 

he put my mom in the dryer and turned it on. 

My mom grew accustomed to unseen 

injuries, later marrying someone 


because she believed he would be a good parent. 

By the time I reached adulthood, Grandma was fading 

into dementia, losing her memories first in pieces, 

then multiple at a time. First my brother’s name 


was replaced with her own son’s, then I 

had been only waist-high the last time she saw me, 

despite having visited a week prior.  

Somewhere in the middle of this settling decline, 


Grandma forgot she didn’t like my mom. 

My mom told me this story like a joke, 

laughed until she was in stitches, 

to prevent herself from disintegrating.


Bio – Miriam Kramer is a poet residing in New Jersey with her partner and two cats. Her poetry has appeared in Vulnerary Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic Magazine, and Rogue Agent Journal. Miriam has read poems to friends and strangers in many parking lots and established venues across the US.

twitter & instagram: @miriadwords

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