Before a secret is told, one can often feel the weight of it in the atmosphere

28 Jul

It’s all comfort.

Intrinsic to my nature is food. My earliest memories are tied up in the recipes my mother would make, for others, never us. Ambrosia, with the tiny sweet oranges and marshmallows, poppy seed cake, with it’s secret recipe memorized, committed to my mother’s brain cells like an accident, and trapped there when she died.

We, her lowly family, only ever got to eat the burned ones. Only the newly married, families with brand new babies, the invalid ever tasted the lovely cakes, soft white on the inside, dusky brown on the crusted bundt.

My mother is the only person who ever caused me to eat liver. Coated in flour, fried in grease and onions, I would inhale it while friends gagged and choked at the table, toying with their potatoes.

In my memory, she is scent. She is the sweetness of spring in a box of cereal, the plastic of the toy, the cream in a popsicle. She is the heavy weight of stew on a wet winter night, feet cold from the walk home.

Each bite to my mouth-the comfort, it’s not the food. It’s not the taste. It’s my mother, the holy ghost itself, devoured.


I have only recently begun to distinguish between eating because I’m actually starving (like today, when my quest for protein ended in my scarfing a Lunchable) and me eating my feelings (like when I blindly grab chips because I’m bored). Coupled with a sudden surge in my movements, I can feel the slimming begin.

It’s not just about my weight.

It’s about giving up my mother. Or rather, giving up the links to her that keep me weighted, the ones that ties me to memory, and make it difficult, if not impossible to move past. It’s about giving up that false hope that tells me someday I will turn a corner and like a ghost made flesh she will be standing, grateful and fawning, waiting for me.

She isn’t though. She never was. All she’s left me is the negligible purpose that my life clings to, and an aching hole I can either line the sides of, or solemnly fill with time and love, and walk over.


I like radishes. New to me, I grab a dirty handful at the market, all red and glowing like new moons. Washed, I chop them into sections and enjoy their subtle fire, like a secret on my tongue, whispers only for me. No one else wants to eat them, ever.

I eat cherries now too. I refuse to let the memory of a dirty old man keep me from them. I inhale a bowl at a mad hatter’s house, surprising myself with how free and open my arms have suddenly become.

Memory it seems, has a shelf life after all.

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7 Responses to “Before a secret is told, one can often feel the weight of it in the atmosphere”

  1. Sue July 29, 2010 at 10:28 am #

    Food and comfort and longing and loss all get conflated for me too. Whenever I miss I’m stressed and missing my mom, I make chocolate macaroons–just the way she made them–and there’s nothing simple in the experience of eating those most simple carbohydrates.

    BTW, I loved liver when my mom fried it in onions for me. We had to eat it once a month when we reached puberty. She believed its iron essential to our growing girl bodies. I also love radishes–in the moment and in the ongoing warm burps. Their aftertaste has much akin to the theme of this post.

  2. Deer Baby July 29, 2010 at 10:47 am #

    These words are like nectar. You are so very talented.

    My mother made me eat liver, served it up three times in a row.

    I love your post titles.

  3. Hannah July 29, 2010 at 2:14 pm #

    I can’t be with you on the liver, I’m afraid. But radishes? They are a taste memory of my grandad; he’d pull them right out of the garden, dust the dirt off on his pants, and I’d crunch them down heedless of anything but that fabulous flavour.

    They are also good sliced very thin and soaked in salt water in the fridge for two or three days. Sounds weird but is awesome.

    Anyway, rameshing on about radishes when really I am just so in love with this post, and the images, and the you that is becoming.

  4. thordora July 29, 2010 at 2:25 pm #

    So all this time I thought I was the ONLY radish lover and it turns out you’re all closet radish lovers?

    Jerks. 😛

  5. Maria July 29, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    Food memories pulsate in most of us. Mine revolve around Mrs. Grass soup and mashers smothered in butter.

    It is the same with me for music. I hear a tune and suddenly, I am sixteen again and it is the day after my first date or I am 41 and looking down at my newborn daughter.

  6. Holly July 30, 2010 at 2:02 am #

    Liver. Well, there you go. Proof that anything can be improved fried.

  7. bon August 1, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    you’ve admitted a lot of things on the internet, my friend, but coming right out and saying you like radishes is BOLD.

    they are like rhubarb for me. childhood rejects, that now i think, WOW.

    this made my eyes sting, just like radishes.

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