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.