Polishing the Stainless

By Liz Abrams-Morley


I randomly imagine Eve,
first bride before bridal showers, fingering with woe
her flatware—spoons mismatched:
silver, stainless, round-bowled, oblong— scoops for her apple-
sauce with cloves, for the soups made from the array
of vegetables in the garden: butternut squash,
pepper, wax bean, snap pea. Dig in,
she’d have said to Adam if he’d let her

have words but he claimed them, left her
to harvest fruits: ok with her. Language alone,
she could have told him, wouldn’t nourish
the children who she couldn’t even keep
from killing each other.
I once had a friend who stole


one teaspoon from each café, diner,
dive she ate in, 45 states and a few foreign nations.
In our shared apartment, Madison, 1972,
she loved to serve her legendary soups to our friends, leftovers
stewed for hours, over low heat, a beat up stock pot on the avocado stove.
Every place at our cigarette-scarred wooden table was set
with one of her collection.
Dig in! Dig in!                She said she stole

because she craved the words, because for each spoon
she knew the story. Later I moved
onto a street of neat, three-bedroom
houses where behind doors, women silently
set tables with floral cloths and matched flatware.
Some had refrigerators magnet-papered in crayoned

families, tempura paint handprints, report cards pocked by
A’s and B’s—appliances become shrines to the ephemera
of their children’s lives . Then babies grew up, cleared out.
Mothers refused to move. What would they do about drawers
filled with old tee shirts, pj’s, jeans the kids had left behind
and just might need if they decided to sleep over?

Unused rooms kept swept, beds left made, as if daughters,
as if sons, would slide into deserted spaces at the dinner table,
pick up spoons and resume the conversation,
the way one piece, suddenly retrieved from under the bureau,
slides into emptiness
and completes the jigsaw puzzle.


After her not-quite-grown son died, my sister cleaned out
the stainless steel refrigerator, turned from hearth to earth,
her new yard on a small pond where no one asked her
to name her sorrow. She suspended spoons,
forks, knives from driftwood, hung these by lengths of dental floss,
created wind chimes which clattered and scared off

crows, red foxes, even coyotes. She ripped into
trim green lawn, planted beans, squash, tomatoes so fat
and sweet they bent vines straight down to dirt.
Love apples someone called them and she loved them,
harvested them gently with scarred bare hands.

Liz Abrams-Morley’s newest collection, Inventory, was published by Finishing Line Press in September of 2014.  Necessary Turns was published by Word Press in 2010 and won an Eric Hoffer Award for Excellence in Small Press Publishing that year.  Other collections include Learning to Calculate the Half Life (Zinka Press, 2001,) and What Winter Reveals (Plan B Press, 2005).  Her poems and short stories have been published in a variety of nationally distributed anthologies, journals and ezines, and have been read on NPR. “Polishing the Silver” was a finalist in the 2016 Jewish Currents Raynes
Poetry Contest and appeared in the anthology, Urge, published by Blue Threads in spring of 2016.

Co-founder and co-director of Around the Block Writing Collaborative, (www.aroundtheblockwriters.org) Liz is on the MFA faculty of Rosemont College and works with public school children in Philadelphia and surrounding counties, presenting literacy through arts programs.   Wife, mother, grandma, teacher, neighbor, sister, friend—she wades knee deep in the flow of everyday life from which she draws inspiration and, occasionally, exasperation.