Stuffing her mouth with chicken and dressing
And warm yeast rolls she wished she’d made,
My mother pronounces I am a blessing
Under her new wig, she hides her disdain.
Could it be that I look too much like my father?
I cannot control that, she is at more fault than me.
I could favor her, face twisted,
Full of contempt, bereft of glee.
When did it start? When I was a child?
What did I do to make her turn into this person
Who sings my praises while sharpening knives?
Can a parent dislike their child?
Will this curse one day settle on me?
DAN RUSSELL is a writer. His work has appeared in The Arkansas Review, Cowboy Jamboree, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, The Tributary, Close to the Bone, Poverty House, and You Might Need to Hear This. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Concordia University-St. Paul and is the host of The Fair to Middlin' Podcast. He and his wife and family live in Arkansas atop Crowley’s Ridge. His debut novel, Poor Birds, will be published by Cowboy Jamboree Press in 2025.