Those Years
Anni Liu

from MHPQ2

My mother and I got two plastic bags’ worth of groceries
from a church basement every other Thursday:
Zip-locked baggies fat with sugar and flour, sagging
loaves of white bread a week past their expiration
(though never fit for human consumption),
creased cartons of dried milk dusting everything
else with a fine chalky silt, and dented 46oz cans stripped
of their labels like the mystery flavor—sometimes pineapple
juice, or, my favorite, pulpy yams in heavy syrup.
My mother drove there without a license in the silver
Mercury that eventually gave out on 75N,
the steering wheel coming off in her hands. How
she made it home, I never asked, just remember her
coming in and standing there starting to sob
while my boyfriend and I tried to find
what to say after having each taken two tabs
of acid not quite an hour before.
When she had finished crying, we helped her
put away the food pantry goods she somehow
remembered to take out of the wrecked car. And this
is what I remember: pushing the things we’d gotten
before further back into the cabinets, knowing
we had little use for them, but thankful anyway
for something to fill the space with.