Before serving Christmas dinner to my in-laws, I mix three recipes of stuffing, trial-and-error six flawed
concoctions before presenting the grand feast. Shove a brazen bird into the food-grinder, rip and toss each burnt version of truth,
never let anything but perfect touch plates. I make over the meal until my mash matches
Julia’s. Like a potter on the wheel, I throw back the cracked-vase cookies; oblong and misshapen creations have no place here.
Panic knowing a bruised apple may have been among them, the shameful unsalted pie laid
out for guests. I hurry back to grab the plump green bit, the store-bought berry tart, and oatmeal chocolate chip. Fanning the smoke with one hand,
microwaving the Smuckers strawberry sauce with the other; they will never see. In the kitchen I eat the extra crispy bacon, stuff down the blackened
butter roll while in the dining room everyone smiles over candlelight wondering how I crafted a king’s spread in under three hours.
But I am the rosy-cheeked wizard-oven oz, housecoat pockets full of cracked eggs and sweat. Scorched pot canned food faker—a hoax of a woman, when you check the garbage.
Khalisa Rae is a poet and journalist in Durham, NC, and author of Real Girls Have Real Problems chapbook. Her poetry can be seen in Crab Fat, Damaged Goods, Hellebore, Terse, Sundog Lit, PANK Tishman Review, the Obsidian, among others. She is the winner of the Bright Wings Poetry contest, the Furious Flower Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, the White Stag Publishing Contest, among others. Currently, she serves as Managing Equity Editor at Carve Magazine and Writing Center Director at Shaw University. Her debut collections, Ghost in a Black Girls Throat are forthcoming from Red Hen Press in 2021 and Unlearning Eden from White Stag Publishing Summer 2021.