Word Thingys: Salome Strangelove

Mom’s been cooking since since four am; hasn’t had a moment’s rest
Dad’s sharpening a carving knife; my little brother ain’t even dressed
A flood of family’ll be here soon — you can feel the tension rise
I’ve been warned to hold my tongue and not call out any lies

Cascading in by carloads, bearing smiles and boisterous chatter
It’s all small talk and gossip, no one says anything that matters
“Now you let me hold that baby” ; “Come give a hug and kiss”
My eyes can’t stop looking for the one soul that I miss

There’s no table set to gather round; no space could hold us all
Half of them just fix a plate then slip off to watch football
It’s a good enough facsimile; it’ll get us through the day
But we all know and we’re all thinking, she never woulda let it be this way

Good behavior lasts a couple hours into the beer and wine
Uncle Rob didn’t like the sweet potatoes and that made Aunt Elle cry
The kids are sent outside to play, the grown-ups hiss and fiddle
Somehow I’m just left here bearing witness in the middle

None of them’ll say it right out loud, not to save their lives
But I know it’s all ‘bout Granddad and his pretty, new, young wife
They’re so sad and they’re so angry it swells in waves, in tides
The pain’s just as raw six months on as it was the day she died

No way forward but right through it, eventually they settle
They trade apologies and pie slices; someone puts on a kettle
It’s awkward and just beneath the surface, vulnerable and real
But then it was an awful lot of pressure to get placed upon one meal

I remember every word, every face and every tear
As with all grief it got easier with every passing year