Our parents were
not perfect but they qualified.
Unwrapped an egg every third June
and found a fresh baby the following spring.
For the rest, Mother relied on The Joy of
Cooking, Similac and Dr. Spock. Dad’s double-
starched dress greens. Precise and crisply
calibrated rules. Yellow JELL-O our standard
bone-and-hide treat. Annual portions
of Betty Crocker meted from any birthday
hopes we could pour neatly into a nine-inch pan.
A home that ran on time and solid logic, not some wild
moment’s unexpected demands. Nine rooms, all safe.
All quiet. Childhood without a care. Funny,
that I once believed we somehow shared
a superior brand of family
rites. I ate it up head-first, the hollow
bunny who gave its only chocolate life
to sweeten our spic-and-span Easter feast.
(And weren’t they healthful, those boiled
carrots? Weren’t they dependable, those
finely-grated feelings and well-peppered fears?)
Forty years later, Mother still tries.
The kitchen calendar says MARCH
so she hustles to baptize the fresh baby
asparagus to mush. She forks a ham
before our childless eyes. Hacks
with knob-fingered vigor at its unnaturally-pink
cloved flesh. Half-blind, she still rises
to measure every oinking slice. She will die vying
for control of all the mashed notions of the perfect
adults she’s somehow gathered
we have become.
C.B. Auder‘s writing and artwork have appeared in Atlas + Alice, Cotton Xenomorph, *82 Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Unbroken, and elsewhere. Find Aud on Twitter at @cb_auder.
An earlier version of this piece was published as “Measured Slices” in 3Elements Review (April 2016).