Shelby Good is an Assistant Poetry Editor of The Broken Plate. They are a senior English major with a concentration in Creative Writing. In this post, Shelby provides commentary on JB Bilbrey’s piece “A Microsome of Married Life: The Grocery List,” which was previously published in our 2019 issue of The Broken Plate.
If you take a stroll through The Broken Plate’s 2019 issue and stop by page 42, you’ll find JB Bilbrey’s poem “A Microsome of Married Life: The Grocery List.” Here, you’ll be lead through the married life via a shopping list and get a tiny glimpse of the intimacies between the narrator and their partner.
True to its form, it is written like a grocery list, but interjected in italics are the narrator’s notes responding to their partner post-shopping. It’s very sweet and it offers a lot of character for both parties while giving a bit of insight into their lives.
The very first lines reveal so much: “Don’t forget to bring the reusable bags, help the environment / I totally forgot, maybe next time you should come with me.” The narrator is forgetful and it’s something comes up later as well when they buy the blue corn tortilla chip trips instead of the triangle ones and goes “Oops.” Also, the hilarity of their partner wanting a specific kind of beef and the narrator lamenting the fact that they have no idea how to buy beef. It makes it so easy for the reader to relate.
That’s also what’s really endearing about this poem; it’s really easy to relate to it and its characters, regardless if you live a married life or not. From the forgetful narrator who struggles to search for and buy the things they need from the grocery store (i.e. unable to find a reusable Keurig coffee filter), to their partner who just wants some frozen pizza and doesn’t like green grapes.
Seeing as this is a microsome of married life, the reader does get little glimpses into their life. The narrator has a new schedule which means more packed lunches. Their partner has late-night classes which means they need extra granola bars. It’s not a lot but these little details help flesh out the characters make them feel like real people the reader could talk to.
Some of the sweeter moments are when the narrator’s partner needs Excedrin Extra Strength and the narrator replies with “I’m on it,” and the reply to cookie cake being: “I got the last one they had, yay!” It sounds like a text you send your friend and it’s just really adorable. But ultimately the sweetest part is right at the end with: “Here is a little surprise to brighten your day / Turkey Hill Sweet Tea” which is the perfect spot to end on.
Overall, this is a very sweet and endearing poem that the reader can derive a lot of joy from reading. It has a warm, homey vibe that one can relax to and feel good about the world, which is quite a pleasant feeling considering the trying times these days.