Write about your mother’s legacy, it says on the board.
They’re expecting Add-A-Pearl bracelets, Crescent
Pie recipes, deep, abiding kindness.
I can give them macrobiotic boyfriends, fucking
on the living room couch, and tie-dye.
I can give them the time you tried to strangle me
over a misplaced pair of sneakers and the joke
about the nuns and the pigeons. Tell them shoo,
and then they’ll fuck off. I can tell them about
seeing you trussed up in a hospital bed, lips
taut against your buck teeth, smelling like
shit and imminent death. There’s probably
a recipe in there somewhere, for vegan carob
cookies with Schadenfreude sprinkles, but I’ll
be damned if I know where you put it. They’ll
hand it back, tell me it’s not literary enough, to
stop being a victim. They’ll tell me to name one
good thing about you. I’ll remind them of
the nuns. That’s not what we meant, they’ll
tell me. Think of something else. In the end,
I’ll hand them a Crescent Pie recipe belonging
to a friend’s aunt, on a yellowed index card.
I’ll write shoo on it in big, black letters. I’ll drive
off blaring “Pearl Necklace” by ZZ Top and,
when they complain, admonish them to be nice.
Karla Keffer is in her third year of a Ph.D. program in creative writing/fiction at the University of Southern Mississippi. Her poems and fiction have been published in Smartish Pace, Moon City Review, and Rappahanock Review. She is also the creator of the perzine The Real Ramona and the forthcoming semiautobiographical comic Charm City. Karla lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.