Pickles

Allyson Jeffredo

USA

As the sourness subdues my craving, the pickle bites
memory into my tongue. When I was 12,
I would chase pickles with creamy whole-milk,
feel the milk shock my teeth like someone hooked
jumper cables up to each tooth. My mom saw
my scrunched face and laughed, That’s the same
combination I’d crave when I was pregnant with you.
I, 12 and craving identical foods as when I nested
inside her widening belly sending signals into her body
of what nutrients I craved, which would send my dad
dutifully to the store.

From her midsection,
I imagine my dad scurrying to the door, finally feeling useful
and proud during the drive. He’d hurry into Stater Bros., rush
down the right side of the store, grab the Vlasic and Alta Dena
off the shelves, rush to checkout aisles and place the
jar and jug down. He would see the strangeness register
onto the cashier’s face, My wife’s pregnant, he would offer,
the cashier, an older man, would nod in understanding
accustomed to the irrationalities of pregnancies.

At home, my dad would pop the pickle jar open, pull one out
with a fork and wrap it with a napkin quartered into a neat square,
(the same way he’d wrap the pickles he’d give me),
snap the milk jug open and slosh a glass full of milk,
take it to my mom as I floated carelessly in her warm ocean.

I’m brought back with the next crunch of pickle.
The sourness pulling me through the folds of time,
a time machine wrapped in the folds of a napkin
I can carry with me to unlock our entangled lives.

Allyson Jeffredo is a Guest Poet for Panorama.