Fat in the Can

On the shady back porch of his summer home,
Uncle Dan, even and easy like my mother,
constructs a lamp from wooden matchsticks.
Calls me Crisco. Aunt Mary cuts chunks
of gelatinous lard into the flour
in the vermilion bowl. I am eleven,
in t-shirt and shorts, and click my Wrigley’s.
I cringe and shrink from him. Nine years later,
as I take the novice’s white veil,
he stands proudly next to me,
my starved body swallowed in the folds
of a lily-colored linen gown and scapular,
my thick hair shorn, face pallid as a scone.

At five the Sisters chose me to crown the Virgin
Queen of the May. She was elegant,
imperially slim, unlike my full-breasted mother,
whisking the stir-about, mewling babies on each hip,
Her brother Dan, still single, reading The Daily News,
slurps cereal and sips from a china cup
the tea she brewed for him. She was a slave.
Each day in school the Virgin loomed above us
her exquisite hands outstretched, index finger
beckoning me.
One by one we dropped our daisies–
her perfected foot crushing the head of the serpent. Liz Dolan is a wife, mother, grandmother, and retired English teacher. She is most proud of the alternative school she ran in the Bronx. Liz has published poems, memoir and short stories in New Delta Review, Nidus, Dream Streets, Rattle, Literary Mama, Canadian Woman Studies, Small Spiral Notebook, and many more. She is currently implementing a grant by organizing a traveling exhibit of her fellow poets’s poetry throughout southern Delaware.

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