What I Learned in My Mother’s Kitchen

While my father traveled for his job during the week,
my mother lived the life of a woman emancipated
by TV dinners and pizza delivery. On Sundays, though,
after church, my father dragged her back to the kitchen,
where she worked the opener against the lip of a can
of salmon so awkwardly I stuck around to make sure
that when she fished out the snaggle-toothed lid,
she didn’t cut herself and need some stitches. While her
cigarette smoldered in the pink melamine ashtray,
she sputtered, crushing the tiles of saltines with her
manicured hands, plunging ten fingers, tips painted bright
pink, into the bowl of heaped cracker dust and grey skin.
I watched her jaw tighten when through her powerful fists,
she squeezed and crunched the fragile feathery bone.

Kathleen Driskell is Chair and Professor of Creative Writing at the Spalding University School of Creative and Professional Writing and is the author of four books of poetry. Her collection of poems Next Door to the Dead is the 2018 winner of the Judy Gaines Young Book Award. Her poems have been published in many national journals including Shenandoah, The Southern Review, and The Louisville Review. She currently serves as chair of the board of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. 

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