Packed and Unpacked

Holes in the shape of stars
punched in gray tin, dented,
cheap, beaten by each
of her children with a wooden spoon.

Noodle catcher, spaghetti stopper,
pouring cloudy rain into the sink,
swirling counter clockwise
down the drain, starch slime
on the backside, caught
in the piercings.

Scrubbed for sixty years, packed
and unpacked, the baby’s
helmet during the cold war,
a sinking ship in the bathtub,
little boat of holes.

Dirt scooped in with a plastic
shovel, sifted to make cakes
and castles. Wrestled
from each other’s hands,
its tin feet bent and re-bent.

Bowl daylight fell through
onto freckled faces, noon stars
on the pavement, the universe
we circled aiming jagged stones,
rung bells it caught and held.

~Dorianne Laux “My Mother’s Colander”from Only As the Day is Long: New and Selected Poems.

Many of my mother’s kitchen things, some over seventy years old, are still packed away in boxes that I haven’t had the time or the emotional wherewithal to open. They sit waiting for me to sort and purge and save and weep.

But this kitchen item, her old dented metal colander, she gave to me when I moved into my first apartment some 40 years ago – she had purchased a bright green plastic colander at a Tupperware party so the old metal one seemed somehow outdated, overworked and plain. It had held hundreds of pounds of rinsed garden vegetables during my childhood, had drained umpteen pasta noodles, had served as a sifter in our sandbox, and a helmet for many a pretend rocket launch to infinity and beyond.

It still works fine, thank you very much, for all intended and some unintended purposes. It does make me wonder what other treasures may surprise me when I finally decide to open up my mother’s boxes. She died ten years ago, but her things remain, as if in suspended animation, to be rediscovered when I’m ready. They wait patiently to be useful to someone again, touched lovingly and with distinct purpose as they once were, and be remembered for the part they played in one woman’s long and faith-filled life.

Maybe, just maybe, it will feel like I’ve unpacked Mom once again as well.

To infinity and beyond…

5 thoughts on “Packed and Unpacked

  1. ‘bright green plastic colander at a Tupperware party’–my mother bought the same one and discarded the wonderful old metal colander I still have–minus a couple feet which make it very lopsided, but I don’t even notice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A colander is a simple, beautiful memory of our mothers. Mine had one just like it, also the green plastic Tupperware one…..

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Emily,
    We are retiring next year and moving across country. I am in the throws of going through many boxes of things stored from 43 years of marriage. It is bittersweet to open boxes and discover items that you had totally forgotten about. But having that object in your hands can bring a flood of memories. I have paced myself to two or three boxes a week. I am learning to “let go.” We have to downsize and decluttering is hard! So, I am learning to take pictures of items and release most of the objects.
    I have loved for blog for many years now. Thank you for the lovely pictures and words of faith and encouragement. You are a sweet blessing.

    Liked by 1 person

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