By Jill Klein published in Rattle: Poetry for the 21st Century
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My cell phone’s dead zones chase me from room to room
to the front patio, where I finally hear Mom ask
if I’ve read some article from thirteen years ago
about how to peel a prawn. I hate prawns, which she knows, frozen
turds thawing in my colander until lthey turn translucent -
apostrophes ready for E-Z Peeling and disguising with spice.
She’s asking if I’ve heard of Heather McHugh, one of my favorite poets,
and the interview she did in that article called “How to Peel
a Poem.” She says she knows I don’t like shrimp, although they are easy
and they keep in the freezer. My mom, who knows all the dead poets
I loathed to learn about, who won some prize in eighth grade
for a poem about her home state, Kansas, who taught literature, who eggs me on,
who has no-need-to-write-herself, but has a lifetime of story
leaking out by cell phone. My Nana, too, dying at ninety-four -
she wouldn’t write her story, either, would not even dictate when I begged her.
I had college befre babies, not babies before finals. I was post Roe v. Wade,
post-feminist, poster girl for the generation who learned math
from fathers. Post-everything, so I had to choose. My daughter believes
what I say. I hope she’ll have kids, a career, great sex
even after kids, and get over her fear of math. I never tell her
any of that. Who am I to, who am I? I peel pre-slit shrimp, the easy way.