She was our youngest and tender-hearted (tender, in fact, throughout) and therefore hard to eat. All through the lengthening day, the aroma tempted us to open the oven and peek, to pluck at the crisping skin, to let just a bit of her escape. The little ones, drawn to the glow by the unfamiliar scent, came too close to the too-hot glass of the oven window and would have toasted their noses, but the older ones pulled them away, hugged them close and nibbled their necks. We busied ourselves with side dishes and talked about how hard it was to make ends meet. The whole extended family gathered here to share in our small bounty; new arrivals ate the air, thoughtfully wet their lips, then went to pay their respects to Mother, who held her arms out from her overstuffed chair, too far along even to rise to greet them. They rubbed her tummy admiringly and some, like Uncle Humorous, set their ears against her belly and pretended to hear a voice from within, “What’s for dinner?” you say? “Wouldn’t you like to know!” The slowest clocks are oven clocks; we laughed to pass the time. At last the bell! And now we scramble to our places; too many for the dining room, we grab at plates and find a perch, make tables of our knees and wait while Daddy beaming brings the platter steaming from the kitchen. He seems near tears with the excitement of it all. One by one, he looks his children in the eye. We watch in awe as he begins to carve and wonder, the older ones anyway, if we could do it. When our turn comes, will we make such neat slices and share without begrudging all we have with those who gather?

Copyright © November 03, 2007 David Hodges