217 Readings

Family Portrait with Rosary and Steak Knife

Because they did not then have men,
my mother and her sister gave their girls a childhood
of artichokes with bearnaise, eggs benedict

on Sundays after Mass. And once,
a lobster dinner from the Italian grocer in the Strip.
Married young inside the Church

and divorced back out a decade later,
they were moored pewside through communion
because they would not confess themselves

adulteresses weekly. They watched
their daughters waiting single file
to take Christ’s body

on their tongues. My mother
plunged her mother’s good Case knife,
a wedding gift, into each lobster’s back

and sent it shrieking
to the pot. My sister wouldn’t eat
but saved the shell, its soft parts

scalded red. She hid the shell
beneath her bed and took it out at night
to speak to it. She wagged

its jagged sawtooth claws,
its blackened gumdrop eyes.
She made it answer back.
Posted 07/10/14
previously published in The Journal, Summer 2012
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