Dinner with Family

by S. Craig Renfroe, Jr.

We had sat down to a purple table cloth and white doilies, lace doilies.
Food, dishes, platters, cornbread, oysters, fatback, starched beans.
We were serving ourselves, cutting, slicing, ladling, forking. The turkey,
the gash I’d put in its side, gurgled and then burped. It moaned
and then began to talk. About finances. Mashed potatoes, in a silver bowl
with a matching gravy boat, oozed off the table, trying, I thought, to make
a break for it. The turkey was obsessed with insurance. PMI, it screamed.
The green beans were lining up, forming letters, spelling out words. Curses
actually, each one more foul than the last. The fish emitted a stench,
like souls rotten, which even the turkey noticed but somehow
incorporated into a rant on the instability of high yield bonds.

And the importance, the dark meat visible with the gash open as it said,
contribute to your 401Ks, tax-deferred, green-bean-word Roth IRAs.
The cantaloupes we hadn’t cut leapt from the table
and burst open on the floor below. Their innards speckled
the linoleum, a pattern, a Rorschach design.
In it, we saw our lives. We saw couches and couches.
We were going to eat the pies and the cakes, but they were fornicating
on the windowsill. Filling and frosting everywhere.

S. CRAIG RENFROE, JR. is the author of the story collection You Should Get That Looked Atand the poetry chapbook Flirting with Ridicule. Currently, he teaches at Queens University of Charlotte. Also, his work appears in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Night Train, 3:AM Magazine, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and others.