Dad’s Jambalaya

It’s dark out
but the cream string lights
strung across my dainty floral curtains
provide light and serenity.
I’m always jumping at the chance to invite you over
and when I do you’re already
halfway out your door.
Both of us now
sitting criss-cross applesauce on top
of blush pink sheets, holding pink bowls even,
swatting away the brave mooch of a dog.
He licks at our knees, a desperate plea,
but we do not fold.

Behold, the fruition of our labor.
The steam of the pot cinching our eyes,
the fear when the inadequate skillet was too small
to hold our stomachs,
to hold the tomato sauce
and peppers and the onion
and shrimp and the sausage,
the unbearable smell of putting too much garlic
was now completely worth it.
Our sweat and effort sitting in our laps,
almost adorable in pretty, pastel bowls.

My unwavering nervousness did not sway you.
Not one bit, even after the first bite
when I pulled my eyes
shut
and exclaimed,
“It’s not anything like my dad’s.
I’m sorry.”
You giggled, and like a good friend would
you said, “That’s okay,
it’s pretty damn good anyway.”

clara tolleson

Clara is a junior at UNT majoring in Creative Writing. Whenever she is not writing essays and reading classic literature, she can be found walking her dog Gunner or feeding the squirrels on campus.

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