Before We Carve the Meat at Thanksgiving Dinner, Courtney Tala

We bow our heads so my dad can bless the food

we are about to eat. When he finishes, I mouth


with the rest of my family so as not to look suspicious

and we start to fill our plates.

My uncle and cousin at the far end of the table

are fighting over deviled eggs. Grandma and Rudy

are making some loose compliment about

the quality of the meal when my aunt says

            Courtney, where’d you get

            those boobs from?

            Obviously not from your mother.


My dad clears his throat through a mouthful of

dry turkey and my mom and I study

the tablecloth. And now we are two

frogs splayed across the table,

bodies open and ready to be dissected –


Her question hangs in the air like a scalpel.


They don’t know that ten minutes after the meal,

I’ll kneel at the toilet, trying to pull these growing

things out of me by reaching down my throat,

or that last week I didn’t eat in hopes that they

would just deflate, fall away like two

forgotten balloons. I don’t tell them

that the girls at school whisper slut

at me whenever I walk by,

that their rumors follow closer than my shadow.

Or about my seventh grade substitute teacher,

who sat on my desk, turned and showed me

exactly what tool he wanted to teach me with.

The first time my C’s were valued higher than A’s.


But shame does not pair well with dessert, so I chew

and swallow and try to excuse myself when my mom says

            I don’t know, but I’m happy she didn’t get mine.

           She’s lucky.


I guess that’s something I’ll understand

when I’m older.

© Courtney Tala

Courtney Tala is a twenty-five year old from Virginia Beach, VA. She is currently a student in the MFA Creative Writing program at Old Dominion University. She is definitely a scorpio. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with a book (or a drink, or both) in her hand.
twitter: @courtneyytala
instagram: @courtneytala

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