Broken Promises
by Ellen Goldsmith

    Plates carry stories no river washes away.
    They tell their stories to spoons
    that mix them into the soup
    and future generations choke --
    they don't know why -- on words
    beginning with the letter of Grandmother's name.

    Every other day I lift weights, using table and chair
    for props to keep my bones from breaking.
    I know so much my grandmother didn't --
    what not to eat and to walk stairs
    rather than ride elevators. But also old ways --
    to not break promises, not go back on your word
    about who gets the china from Czechoslovakia.

    Shrimp shells left an extra day in the garbage,
    soured milk leave odors that linger.
    The light diminishes little by little.
    If I look away, sudden dark, and once again,
    the secret in that in-between-moment, gone.

Copyright © 2021 by Red River Review. First Rights Reserved. All other rights revert to the authors.
No work may be reproduced or republished without the express written consent of the author.