Sometimes I Get Lost in Memory by Judy Lorenzen

Sometimes I Get Lost in Memory

like the one of Dad making dolmathes
for the last time, his taking the fresh grape leaves
from his vine,
washing, then blanching them.
Rinsing the rice in the colander,
he sautéed the olive oil and chopped onions
until translucent, making me think
of the need to be transparent with the ones
I love and tell them before I can’t. Carefully,
he added the rice and beef
and sautéed a minute longer.
When the aroma made my stomach
growl, it was time for two cups of warm water and lemon juice
to simmer for seven minutes
until the rice had absorbed the water,
then his own special season salt and herbs, his secret ingredients.
Something of the tremors in his hands made me think
about life, and I wanted to tell him I loved him,
and that love, not only food, keeps a family alive,
but my pride silenced me.
Next, he layered the bottom of our largest pot
with vine leaves and started rolling the dolmadakia.
The rolling was the hardest part
for his shaking hands.
One leaf at a time, shiny side down,
he added the filling, then folded the lower
section of the leaf over the filling, tightly
bundling them in the pot. He placed each stuffed
leaf folded side down—to the top. Pride can ruin
everything, a whole pot of Greek cuisine or someone’s future.
Drizzling the dolmathes with the rest of the olive oil,
lemon juice, and secret ingredients, he poured
in enough water to just cover them and placed
an inverted plate over the top.
The waiting began—40 minutes,
then another 30 to cool down
and silence.
I wished I would have asked him questions,
and not just any questions,
important questions
like how hard was your childhood
growing up in a cardboard box in shanty town
in the winters? or why didn’t you leave us?
No. No. I wish I would have said,
“Thank you for the dolmathes
that you made just for me. I love them,”
but pride at that time was too hard for me to swallow—
now, it just eats me up.

by Judy Lorenzen

Editor’s Note: As this narrative poem so clearly explains, some lessons are learned too late and regret can be unhappily painful.


4 responses to “Sometimes I Get Lost in Memory by Judy Lorenzen”

  1. Michelle Meyer Avatar

    Wow. This is so incredibly powerful. Thank you.

  2. Dave Williams Avatar

    It’s hard to imagine a better narrative of stewing in your own memories; in this poem, the speaker is virtually cooking with remorse. Well done!

  3. crsunde Avatar

    Touching narrative and tale of regret.

  4. Bri Sanchez Avatar
    Bri Sanchez

    So touching. Made me want to cherish moments with my father more while I still have them.

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