A Moment Ago, Everything Was Beautiful

A Moment Ago, Everything Was Beautiful

It’s been a long time since I couldn’t open a jar of mayo, you said.

In your world this meant the universe collapsed
and the stars had become crumbcake.

Satellites shattered, flour sacks spilled,
and we were a pastry mess in the kitchen.

In the past we were small heroes.

Now we search the web for online assistants,
new tools for things we could once do.

We shouldn’t judge our lives.

We shouldn’t judge our loves
by what we can’t
twist or hold onto.  I heard the sky

that morning was the color of bruises, a blossoming
meteor, a crumpled tail of a comet sprayed
against the crosswalk.

But we missed it all. Inside,

we were considering a life of unopened jars.
So many things we kept shut.

If I think back, I’d believe we went hungry
that day, hungry while the planet slingshot itself
into another galaxy and heaven moved a little

closer. Dark matter angels mingled over oceans
and bubbling cities filled with unopened jars,
all we had were cupboards and cupboards
of challenges.

You said, Sometimes I still want to be needed,

so I let our kitchen become a flood
of time and you, the only thing keeping me
from going under.


Kelli Russel Agodon

A Moment Ago, Everything Was Beautiful
Kelli Russel Agodon

what it means

An aging mother and her daughter (I'm making some leaps for the actual gender and relationship here, but this is what it means to me after all),  are having a conversation in the kitchen. 

How do we age gracefully?  How do we get the help we need while still maintaining our autonomy?  Losing the ability to open a jar is a universe collapsing.

why I like it

Well, you know, I'm middle-aged, my parents and in-laws are aging.  This poem speaks to my life stage.  It says things that are very hard to say out loud like "You said, Sometimes I still want to be needed," but that need to be said.  And it exhorts us to look up from the unopened jars and notice the universe.  This is a necessary poem.


I love the meshing of the kitchen and universe language often on the same line "Satellites shattered, flour sacks spilled."

I was just reading a post from an editor about how the first line has to be fantastic.  That first line is.  It takes the big pronouncement of the title and turns it into something concrete, mundane, and heartbreaking.  It immediately sets who, what, where.  I know we have two intimates--because who else would you admit that to--sharing a confessional moment.  I'm assuming mother and daughter, but I had a similar relationship with my next door neighbor, Ingie, as she aged.  I felt very privileged to be let in to her physical and emotional struggles with aging, and I feel the same way by the first line of this poem: set up for an almost painful intimacy.

You can buy her books at www.agodon.com