Sensory Memory

The cracker
in cellophane
from the diner
tastes like age eleven,
and I think of her—
“Grammy” —
sitting next to me
dunking Saltines into
Salada tea with
milk and sugar.
I hear the chirp
of her hearing aid,
smell Vicks
and Vasoline,
feel the softness
of her cheek
against my lips.

• • •

©2013, Jen Payne

18 thoughts on “Sensory Memory

  1. isn’t it strange, how the photos can be slightly out of focus, but our best and happiest memories are suddenly made clear and sharp again by something as simple as crackers in cellophane? i recently posted a photo online of my maternal grandmother (in a tribute to mother’s day) and my mom and i talked about it for a while, which made us both feel good – thanks for the reverie


  2. Aww… I have such wonderful and vivid memories of my grandma too. The smell of bleach and hand cream remind me of her. She loved saltines and tea too. I miss her. Thanks for sharing your memories of your grandma in such a lovely poem! ❤


  3. The blur adds to the sense of a dream, a waking dream, a reverie —
    What a fine tribute to someone dearly beloved. And how marvelous that it’s evoked by a cracker in cellophane —
    Proust was really on to something!


  4. Remembrance of Things Past begin when the author, “Marcel” (Proust himself), one morning dips a madeleine (French cookie, ask for it at Starbucks if you don’t know it, they often have them in little packages — in cellophane!) in his tea. The action (and the taste) releases a flood of memories which results in the seven (?) volumes of his monumental work.
    Who knows where your saltines will lead?


  5. Not a simple yes-or-no question!
    I was very glad I had read the work, and there are bits and pieces that are permanently part of me. It’s an epic novel, and an epic undertaking. “Enjoy” isn’t exactly the word. So — It needs to be the right time, the right place, and who knows when (or if) that is? Google it, browse around, get a sense of it — or keep it at the back of your mind. If the right time comes, you will know.


  6. No, no, don’t hit ADD TO CART!
    Try your local library (or library system) and take out the first volume and browse it. Fair warning: The first sentence is several pages long. This is a leisure-time, long-term project. (Even just the first volume!)
    Wikipedia’s account gives a good summary:
    It’s a great novel of the haute bourgeoisie in France in the early 20th century. So some questions are: how much are you interested in this period, this society, France, the history of the novel?
    I think the best idea is to get the actual book from the library and try it. You’ll decide: a) this isn’t for me b) I might find it interesting at another time c) Yes, let me at it!


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