Afternoon Memory

Soto, Gary

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Aull, Felice
  • Date of entry: Mar-26-1998


The narrator find himself in the kitchen where "the faucet drips" and "The magnets on the refrigerator crawl down / with the gravity of expired coupons and doctor bills." He looks into the refrigerator, trying to remember whether he has seen any of its contents before. He is preoccupied with his body, which is aging. His mind wanders. Suddenly, he is alert again, oriented to the present and ready to take charge--of his diet and of his life. "I'm full of hope. / I open the refrigerator. / I've seen this stuff before."


This is an amusing description of the awareness of getting older, of the body's deterioration, and of mortality--woven into the routines of daily living. The poem captures well the momentary recognition of vulnerabily which may surface during adulthood. It is of interest to compare this poem to Jane Kenyon's The Pear, (see this database) which also deals with middle-age but in which the viewpoint is considerably bleaker.

Soto, a Chicano writer, often speaks to Mexican Americans as well as to a broader American audience. In this poem he mentions "tortillas" among the other foods in the refrigerator, but that is the only clue--if it can be called that--to his ethnicity.


This poem appears in the "Super-Eight Movies, new poems" section of this collection. New and Selected Poems was nominated for the National Book Award.

Primary Source

New and Selected Poems


San Francisco

Place Published