Flash Her Mother’s Spoons
Jealous of objects, that’s what grief makes you.
When we first began to converse, the spoons and I, they told me how sorry they were for my loss, and that they too missed my mother. Not every spoon spoke; perhaps some were embarrassed? Like so many things, not to mention people, they prided themselves on being utilitarian.
But they missed her touch. And they missed her knowingness, how she’d pull a particular one out of the drawer and understand it the way a tarot reader knows every card in their deck. The teaspoon best suited for elderberry syrup, that was Temperance. The soup spoon which, unlike its fellows, could never be bent, that was Strength. And the one so mirror-like that your elongated face in its convex reflection seems truer than your actual visage, that was Justice.
I didn’t want to be rude, so I listened.
They told me about the pleasures of sinking raw sugar into dandelion-root tea and about the pain of chipping away at too-stiff ice cream. They told me of my mother’s bottom lip and how, when she was deep in thought, she’d tap her teeth with the metal belly of whichever of them was in use.
The more I listened, the more they talked. They spoke of places and occasions I had not existed to witness: the bridal shower from which only three out of the original eight of them survived; the thrift shop around the corner from her first apartment; the souvenir stand at the national park where she’d met my father.
Like the neighbors who’d stood too close to me at her wake, each and every one insisted on sharing their favorite memories, and soon I knew them all, the whole arcana, as well as my mother had. But never, it seems, as well as they knew her.
Jealous of objects, that’s what grief makes you. I wished to lick my own wounds. So, cruelly, I hid the spoons all over the house. In an effort to break up their chorus, I placed them in storage bins and junk drawers, flower pots and umbrella holders, between stacked sweaters and the pages of books. Displeased and dispossessed, they stopped speaking to me at last, and I was eager for the chance to be alone with my own memories.
But now at night I hear them singing to themselves, longing to be useful, calling to each other like ghosts, every voice a tarnished, metallic echo of hers.