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).

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