Ode to The Fridge

The Fridge, Lockdown-Stocked

Publication Date: May, 2020

Location: In the PoetsOnline Archive, under ‘Odes to Common Things‘.

Genesis: Prior to the Covid lockdown, I was spending a couple of days a week clearing out my Mum’s house, ready for the new occupants. I still need to finish this job! Anyway, with my Dad, my kid sister, and now my Mum gone, it’s challenging getting used to the fact that I’m now an orphan, and there’s no one left, really, who knew me as a baby. That’s not quite true of inanimate objects, though. The house is full of inanimate objects – that’s why the house clearing was taking so long! – but one day not long before the restrictions were imposed, I made a sudden, quite emotional connection to two items in particular – the rocking horse, called Scamp, and The Fridge.

The rocking horse was made for my Dad by his dad (who was a blacksmith) for his seventh birthday. He’s lost his mane and tail, and his 2D head is a bit bare and bald now, but he’s been a fixture in the house long before I rocked up. Similarly with The Fridge. When the prompt came through to write an ode to a ‘common thing’, The Fridge was the only option I ever really considered. Enjoy…

Born in 1960,
The Fridge is older than me.
Older than me,
and colder than me,
with more staying power
than any fridge
made today.
planned obsolescence
by several decades,
it’s never missed a beat
since Mum & Dad
brought it home
to their little love-nest,
all those years ago.
Open it up and see
a freezer box at the top,
black door opening downwards
to the ice cream
and the vodka;
alongside, a half-shelf
where the milk jug was kept
when I was a kid.
Who uses milk jugs now?
Three full shelves –
choose their location
using the little grooves
moulded into
the white, plastic walls.
On the inside of the door,
a blue egg-rack
and a drop-down
where we used to keep
the butter;
now it houses
carrots for the dog and,
when I’m pushed for space,
a can of Camden Hells.
The white solid shelf
at the bottom of the inside
of the door,
with its solid wire retainer,
held milk bottles
back in the day when they were glass,
delivered clinking to the doorstep
six days a week,
at three in the morning,
and that chimed
a friendly greeting
whenever we opened
or closed
The Fridge door.
If we didn’t move
the milk bottles
from the step to The Fridge
early enough in the winter,
the cream at the top
would freeze, expand,
pop the silver foil top
and raise it up
on an obscene pillar
of frosted cream.
A delay in the summer,
too long after the dawn chorus,
meant a ragged hole in
the silver foil,
and a fat, sated blue tit
in a nearby tree.
What do blue tits drink now
on a golden summers’ morn?
Closed, the door is white,
a chrome handle
set horizontally
into a jet-black
wide-set band
at the top,
bearing the legend,
Established in 1934,
they no longer exist;
nothing they made
ever needed
My lovely Mum
(born in 1939)
can never be
replaced and,
since she died last year,
The Fridge is all there is
left in the world
that’s known me
all my life.

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