Saint Charles Parish Didn’t Prepare my Mother
by Paulette Demers Turco


Oblong Maine potatoes, cleanly peeled,
pushed through the grid to make such perfect fries;
our fresh-caught cod, we’d thinly coat in flour,
a touch of corn meal, salt, paprika, pepper–
tossed in a paper bag; filets then fries
dropped in sizzling, bubbling, golden Crisco–
the table set, the meal prepared in time
for mom and dad to walk into the kitchen
with next week’s groceries. We made Friday dinner
like other girls from St. Charles Borromeo.
But Vietnam, the pill, Pell scholarships
for college stalled Mom’s dreams of husbands, babies.
Why, once we left, Mom gave our clothes to cousins,
she never told us. We knew not to ask.

Poem first published in The Poetry Porch in 2019


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