Family Dinner

Cheryl Chambers


Her small frame hangs
like a hook, spine crooked
and a cigarette dangling
an oral death certificate.
The water boils and her hair
should hang limp like angelhair
pasta yet its coils demand
adherence to an age old code.

The family sits at the table.
Men's paunches kiss the wood
while wives flutter from chairs
to sinks deciding how to maneuver
through a family tree
without getting cut by the branches.

Tomato paste thickens odors
of a vegetable garden, a time
back home no one knows and wine
tinkles into chalices holding
the birth of new faces
the death of old ones.

She strains to finish the meal
and drags oxygen to the head
of her family a spot left open
with the death of love. Her enlarged
knuckles knock a warning to an only son
an heir that tears the bread
and family
in order to bring it back together
with a clink and a
roaring salute.

Copyright 2006 by the Tipton Poetry Journal.

All rights remain the exclusive property of the individual poet and may not be used without their permission.