BellaOnline Literary Review
Upset Parrot by Maurice Schulman


An Early Gift

Jody Zolli

The day began with a whirlwind cleanup,
Followed by an army-sized brunch,
And a family photo with all eight of us.
All eight, I mused, as I rinsed plumes of maple syrup
Off the winter white plates, feeling myself settling
Somewhere close to peace.

Later on we made cookies, tried to get the baby to sleep,
And toyed half-heartedly with the cats,
Compensated the cookie dough for the confusion
Between a teaspoon and a tablespoon,
Nestled in the warm kitchen, sitting on
Spare chairs, eating tricolor corkscrew pasta
With mismatched forks, offhandedly inviting the cats
To clean our plates with their rough tongues.

I looked around the room at my grandmotherīs
Inlaid card table, and the vintage heater where
The cats collapsed, absorbing the gentle warmth,
Opening half an eye as we discussed the
Holiday season, and how hard it is, and how it
Shouldnīt be, my eyes turning from the
Virtual fireplace, now playing on two screens,
To my son, armed with the spoils of the recycling bin,
Making ornaments at the glass table,
Crafting a Christmas tree, a snowman, a santa,
And, finally, in an artistic anagram, satan.

Purring inwardly, though no one could put a finger
On a particular moment that made it so, the day
Unfolded with a quiet comfort. We recognized the flavor
As it lingered on our tongues, somewhere between
The french toast and the maple bacon, the
Chocolate chip cookies and the sauteed broccoli,
The Italian loaf and the sparkling wine,
Knowing, with the settling of
The seasonīs first attempted snow,
That we had savored our first gift.

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