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.