At the Table

Saturdays smelled sharp—vinegar
with ham hocks simmering
in a stainless steel pot.
On the only day that Daddy cooked
he wore a faded T-shirt
and left his relaxed hair
tied in a satin rag
that Mommy called his babushka.

And then he fed us,
ladled black-eyed peas, collards, and pork
into chipped ceramic bowls
as we sat around the kitchen table
ready to receive.

But I hated the funky stew,
the little hairs poking from fat flesh.
The bones.
I cried to be excused from the table,
forced to have just a taste.
Daddy’s girl didn’t want this from her father:
the hard stare, the gristle,
the bitter broth.


Christine Taylor, a multiracial English teacher and librarian, resides in her hometown of Plainfield, New Jersey.  She serves as a reader and editor at OPEN:  Journal of Arts & Letters. Her work appears in Glass Poetry, The Rumpus, and The Paterson Literary Review among others.  She can be found at