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Where the Groceries Went

Carver, Raymond

doi: 10.1097/01.ACM.0000419811.99690.97
Medicine and the Arts
Free

“Where the Groceries Went” from All of Us: The Collected Poems by Raymond Carver, copyright © 1996 by Tess Gallagher. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

When his mother called for the second time

that day, she said:

“I don’t have any strength left. I want

to lay down all the time.”

“Did you take your iron?” he wanted to know.

He sincerely wanted to know. Praying daily,

hopelessly, that iron might make a difference.

“Yes, but it just makes me hungry. And I don’t

have anything to eat.”

He pointed out to her they’d shopped

for hours that morning. Brought home

eighty dollars’ worth of food to stack

in her cupboards and the fridge.

“There’s nothing to eat in this goddamn house

but baloney and cheese,” she said.

Her voice shook with anger. “Nothing!”

“And how’s your cat? How’s Kitty doing?”

His own voice shook. He needed

To get off this subject of food; it never

brought them anything but grief.

“Kitty,” his mother said. “Here, Kitty.

Kitty, Kitty. She won’t answer me, honey.

I don’t know this for sure, but I think she jumped into the washing machine

when I was about to do a load. And before I forget,

that machine’s making

a banging noise. I think there’s something

the matter with it. Kitty! She won’t

answer me. Honey, I’m afraid.

I’m afraid of everything. Help me please.

Then you can go back to whatever it was

you were doing. Whatever

it was that was so important

I had to take the trouble

to bring you into this world.”

© 2012 Association of American Medical Colleges