Dad, who inspected our fingernails, hands
before dinner, sent us away to clean them, who so
enforced table manners at our nightly formal
family dinners we thought he made up
new rules at work each day—that father
put our Chihuahua on our dining-room table the first night
we ate with my sister's fiancé and future in-laws.

Popocatepetl, our pet, didn't know what
to do and neither did our guests, who
kept still, smiles frozen, as the dog meandered
from one end to the other, between
the soup tureen and the wine glasses,
until beckoned by Mom, quite
embarrassed. Dad had sensed
his eldest had made a poor choice.
Later, as my sister ran upstairs crying,
all Mom did was say: "—Maurice."

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