1,310 Readings

Chicken Sestina


upon a time

or countless times each mother named Amy

has also been a monster. This has led

her to say I’m sorry or, in the beginning, Mommy is sorry,

although it’s also true that sometimes she or the monster wasn’t


sorry. It’s not that she wasn’t

making an effort. Amy is generally tenderhearted. Once

in 2002 Amy cried at the sink over a raw chicken. I’m so sorry,

chicken, she whispered as she rinsed its pinky hollows. At the time

this particular Amy was a new mother, and the way those five pounds lolled

in her hands, knobby spine just under the skin, was too familiar. Amy


sniffled as she rubbed it down with salt and stuffed it with garlic. Amy

could make a good chicken, and she wasn’t

a bad mother—she never cooked her children—although she fumbled

their little bodies, their tiny hearts. It is hard not to. Once

you understand the epic sweep of mother, disappointment is a matter of time.

Your body, your time is not your own. And the kids, the kids aren’t sorry,


they’re just being kids, then the monster rages and again is sorry.

Once Amy asked her son, to whom she is not yet but might someday be Amy,

if he can remember a  time

that he was afraid of her. If ever, she said cryptically, he wasn’t

sure what would happen next. A child’s memory is terrifying, and once

she said these words she regretted them. But also he’s entitled


to say his truth, Amy thought. I don’t understand, he replied. He wanted to be led

through the exercise, and so she fumbled, Just wondering. And I am sorry

if it’s true. And If it is it would be okay, you can say it (and confirm that once

or many times she wasn’t Mommy or even Amy

but some larger monster because, to be honest, it wasn’t

hard for Amy to list of a dozen possibilities). He thought in silence and as he did, time


slowed. The smell of roast chicken enveloped the kitchen.  Finally: I don’t remember a time

when it was more than you just being, you know, annoyed. And Amy was filled

with relief and affection and the realization that he probably wasn’t

being honest. And while she was sorry

for this, Amy

was also grateful that the boy, who’s not yet but will soon be a man, had spared her  this once.


For those moments that I’m sure you do remember: I am sorry, mon cher

poulet ami. I’m sorry too that the bigger world will be monstrous. But that I led

you to this kitchen with me, or the world beyond it? I’ve never been sorry. Not even once.

Posted 12/14/14
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