My father’s mother smothered ninety-nine-cent packets of ham
in cheese and macaroni. Called it casserole, the hiding of one heart attack
with a smaller, cheaper one. Midwest that’s a given,
like exhaust around the El, like beige snow around the mailboxes.
My father’s mother married Whitey, kept him away from the kids,
raised a tall boy over her short husband, raised daughter after daughter
over the alley where women slurred then screamed. Whimper, went the cat,
then whimper went my dad. No stone. No throw. No more wrestling, motorbike,
dentistry school. Children’s home, went my dad. Take-in. Pulled hair
and oven mitts over the fingernails. My father’s mother listened over the phone,
nodding, smoking, telling him she’d be gone soon. This was how the ledgers held steady,
someone always in the doorway to help the shrinking thing limp in,
to hold a shadow over what was not ready to be caught in daylight.
Cali Kopczick is a copywriter, project manager, and freelance editor based in Seattle, Washington. She was the editor for Chin Music Press and is the production manager and story editor of the documentary Where the House Was. Her writing is out or forthcoming with The Offing, The Birds We Piled Loosely, Entropy, Bone Bouquet, and Crab Creek Review, among others.
Featured Image Credit: Morgaine Baumann