Author’s Note: “Fried Chicken, 1981” is a portrait of my mother when I was a child. I wanted to say her name the way her mother said her name. I wanted to capture the way she spoke and her mannerisms. I wanted to acknowledge her youthfulness in the context of aging. I wanted to point to the everyday experience of expressing love and care by making dinner. And of course, I wanted to write down how she made fried chicken.
Fried Chicken, 1981
Joanie props her elbows on the table cloth
then picks up a chicken leg-
and-thigh combo, dredges
it through egg and milk, through
breadcrumbs with flecks
of green and black, nestles it
in with the rest of the body. Later, Joanie
hunches over stove and frying pan,
before pushing the tray
into the oven for, oh,
35 minutes, and back to the table
with her elbows
still unbent by time,
aimed to the ceiling
to mark her words,
and she looks out the window
where we will never build
an addition. This is the process
no one else seems to use
to get their chicken fried
and I know
other people’s recipes
are supposed to be good,
but hers is the greasiest cracked
pepper and salt
love I have ever tasted.
Louise Robertson serves as the marketing director for Writers’ Block Poetry Night in Columbus, Ohio. She counts among her publications, awards, and honors a jar of homemade pickles she received for running a workshop as well as a 2018 Pushcart Prize nomination (“Open: A Journal of Arts and Letters”) and a 2018 Best of the Net nomination (Flypaper).
Delmarva Review publishes evocative poetry and prose selected annually from thousands of submissions regionally and nationally. Designed to encourage and present outstanding new writing, it is an independent, nonprofit literary publication. Financial support comes from tax-deductible contributions, sales, and a grant from the Talbot Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Website: DelmarvaReview.org.