Family Dinner by Colleen M. Farrelly


alarm bells–
dinner finishing
in the oven

Claire carefully slid the rack partway out of the oven and basted the browning bird before poking in the thermometer. Hungry guests roamed the house, plopping in the den to watch the game, picking at the kitchen dishes like turkeys plucking at spilt grain, and arguing over something ecumenical. It was never quiet at Thanksgiving.

She’d agonized over the menu, down to the size of the browning bird in the deep recesses of her basement kitchen and the kinds of pie available. Pumpkin, chocolate, and apple won out. Auntie Bea threatened an insurrection if her place were set near her ex, now shacking up with Auntie Genevieve. The youngest cousins couldn’t sit at the kids’ table after the curry incident at Casey’s twelfth birthday party. And what to do with great-grandpa, whose dementia prompted him to give the bird to people randomly? Auntie Eloise would have a heart attack and bless herself.

turkeys squawking at the table–
a thumb’s up
with the middle finger

The thermometer chirped, and Claire clattered against the rack as she wrestled the thirty-pound bird to the countertop. She carved a bit from the bottom and popped it into her mouth. It was perfectly done and ready for display.

She tottered up the staircase and into the formal dining room, where her sisters and aunties were placing the rice, the biscuits, the cranberry sauce, and the other spreads. Genevieve’s sons, Charlie and Horace, wrestled over the last seat on the opposite end of the table from the string bean casserole. Aunt Bea struggled to separate them as she grabbed for the carving knife.

at the family table—
the nuts fall out


Colleen M. Farrelly is a poet, data scientist, and surf aficionado from Miami, FL, who enjoys the good and the bad horror flicks. She’s involved in sociological research and sometimes gives talks on socioeconomic impact on topics like education.


Published 12/5/19