Sunday, May 12, 2013

Just a Sliver

Fat and stinking, and muttering
to herself, she was the old woman
who lived in her shoes and clopped
around our house calling herself
"the housekeeper," the slob who
was given our spare room, a short-
lived experiment by worn working
parents who had no intention of
raising latch-key kids. With tongue
attached to one corner of her mouth,
she mumbled her three favorite words:
"My, my, my" overandover as her
weight thundered on the old floors,
and kittens scattered like Lilliputians
while we laughed behind her back.

After dinner my father would offer
the troll dessert— usually cake or pie.
"Just a sliver," she always said, she
always said, "Just a sliver," until
one night his disgust at the view of
this Jabba the Hutt drooling for 
the large slice he always gave her
so overwhelmed him he used his
sharpest knife, his sharpest skill,
to carve from the chocolate cake
a sliver so tiny it made her cry.

Written for Poetics — It's Tempting! — at dVerse Poets, hosted 
this week by Mary, whose prompt asks us to "...write about ‘temptation’ 
in some way.  Yours or someone else’s.  Factual (perhaps historical) or fictional."



Fireblossom said...

It's been said that every person is really three people: the person others think we are, the person we think we are, and the person we really are. Here, they all seem to have had a smoking pile-up. I felt bad for her. She may have been hideous, but there's still someone in there, made to cry.

Brian Miller said...

whew...what a cruel man he is eh? just a sliver and he keeps giving her the large until his moment of victory when he breaks her...ugh....

Lydia said...

Fireblossom~ You pegged it beautifully. This is why I so love these writing prompts. I likely never would have taken a deeper look at her to begin to see her. It sorta stopped me when I wrote the last line, as it came from nowhere. An aHa moment, as if my seven-year-old self still had something to learn.

Lydia said...

Brian~ Wow, yes my stepfather was cruel in a teasing kind of way. I hate that kind of meanness, when teasing is indeed cruelty and is self-serving. Your insight helped me to see yet more there. Thank you.

Claudia said...

ha smiles...probably he felt really bad afterwards but maybe it was a good lesson for her in saying what she really wants and in getting what she asked i like what he did

aka_andrea said...

Wow, this piece has layers and layers...the judgment and cruelty.
The 'hideous' face worn by someone who does not know how to use their voice. So much to ponder.

Mary said...

I do feel sorry for the 'housekeeper' in a way, but I do wonder why she would continue to ask for just a sliver and then accept the largest piece. When someone asks for a sliver of dessert at my house, I do give them a smaller piece. Your father's way of handling it though was definitely not kind; but I can see from some of the things said earlier in the poem that the woman was also an irritating presence in some ways. I do think we, as adults, have to be able to get into the heart of people though....and it seems you gained some insight through writing this poem. It definitely captured my attention and made me think.

Kelvin S.M. said...

...aww... that must have been quite a 'tiny' pain too... smiles...

Kelvin S.M. said...

p.s.» so sorry to read the loss of your cats & dog...

rosaria williams said...

A good one! How long did you endure this troll around the house?

Rob-bear said...

A hard story to read and consider.

Blessings and Bear hugs!
Bears Noting
Life in the Urban Forest (poetry)

Lydia said...

Claudia~ He may have indeed felt badly about doing that later. You made some interesting points about her. Thank you.

aka_andrea~ Another good point: that she did not know how to use her voice. Thank you.

Mary ~ Thank you for your thoughtful comments and for this interesting prompt. Little did I know that I'd be writing about Mrs. Preston ever!

Kelvin ~ I wonder whatever happened to her after she left....
I appreciate your kind words about my pet losses. :(

rosaria ~ In my child's memory I would say she was there for less than six months. I don't remember the particulars of her leaving. We never entered her room while she lived with us, so what a surprise for my mother upon opening it up. Mrs. Preston, on her day off each week, would leave in the a.m. by cab and return late in the p.m. the same way. She liked to gamble (this was in Reno). My mother found hundreds of non-winning Keno tickets underneath the area rug in her room. Pitiful.

Rob-bear ~ It really is, I agree. I don't want to think much more about this episode in my childhood from this point on.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

There's a story about legendary British actor Brian Blessed when he was hired to play Boss Nass (Jar Jar Binks' boss in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) that goes that he asked George Lucas why he had been hired and was told "i wanted a mad bastard"

Considering that Blessed has tried on multiple occasions to climb Everest and is one of the few people alive who can claim to have boxed with the Delai Lama i'd say it was a fair description

As to the piece of writing it's grusomely fascinating - the sort of thing you want to turn away from, but keep reading any way - which i think shows how well its written

susan said...

I enjoyed it a lot too but kept hoping it was just a made up story.



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