A nurse on the ward urged me
to take home this ceramic spoonrest
shaped like a fish;
she says I made it
in arts and crafts.

Home now, I hover
near the microwave
or tend to garlic sputtering in oil,
and consider the molded shape,
the clashing hues of salmon
and mauve that somehow match
our kitchen. Rinsing it clean
after dinner, I squeak fingers
across the scales, press palm into the hollow belly
of the fish,
but still find no fit
for this piece in memory.
My husband shuddered
when I set it on the stove–
“Wouldn’t you rather forget?”

I won’t forget
looking at my baby
through glass meshed with wire,
or the terror mixed with love
in my husband’s eyes,
or the friend I made there
who called from home
and said, “I’m afraid. I want to go back.”

The truth is
I don’t remember
making this spoonrest,
but it pleases me all the same
that I brought back from hell
some useful thing.

Amy Rust Higgins, 1996

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