Mama tried so hard to teach us manners,
Most food you don’t eat with your fingers,
Close your mouth when you chew,
Say please when you ask someone to pass the potatoes,
Say excuse me when you get up to leave the table,
And eat everything on your plate before you ask for more.
But my brothers ate like ravening wolves,
Like they hadn’t been fed for years,
So every meal was filled with reminders,
Slapped hands that reached clear across
The table, occasional tears, some shouts,
Many threats. My sisters sat for hours
And stared at their vegetables
Willing them back in the bowl.
It never worked. My father ate in silence.
The rules never applied to him.
Occasionally he would yell at everyone
To shut up, then he’d get up and leave
The table. One night, he reached silently
For the last pork steak at the same time
That my brother, Darrell, tried to spear
The same pork steak with his fork.
Darrell stabbed Daddy’s hand, drew
The fork back in terror, started to say sorry,
When Daddy backhanded him, and Darrell
Went flying, hit the wall, slid down sobbing
While everyone else sat silent.
Daddy finished his pork steak,
Got up and left the table.
Darrell came back and sat down,
Finished his potatoes while we argued
Over who had to do the dishes
Until Mama told us all to shut up.
She scraped the girl’s green beans
Back in the bowl to save for another night.
We all learned a lesson –
Ever forked with Daddy again!
Forking fun for some Holiday Hilarity! – mh