Francine Witte: “When Supper Was a Thing”


Not dinner, but six o’clock supper.

My mother, tending to a roast at the oven,

faint film of sweat on her forehead.

How I didn’t know that she was alive

with a whole other life. How I couldn’t

imagine that the strings of the apron tied

around her waist hugged her like the arms

of her secret lover.

And why would I know? I knew nothing

about men. Or even boys. Childhood was saying

eyes front. You’re only 11. And yes, there

was still time for all that drama, before

I would see my father as a robbed man,

a man who would soon stoop over, heart attack

and never find out how my mother slipped off

Thursday nights, perfume in her hair, serving us

something extra quick, Hamburger Helper or

leftover roast. No way to guess how full

of tricks six o’clock supper really was.

Salt giving everything flavor, red dye giving

our food the color of hearts, our family sitting

at the table, everyone sharing the same exact meal.

Francine Witte is the author of four poetry chapbooks and two full-length collections, Café Crazy and The Theory of Flesh from Kelsay Books. Her flash fiction has appeared in numerous journals and been anthologized in the most recent New Micro (W.W. Norton). Her novella-in-flash, The Way of the Wind, has just been published by Ad Hoc Fiction, and her full-length collection of flash fiction, Dressed All Wrong for This, was recently published by Blue Light Press.

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