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Cranberry sauce: A poem

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DECEMBER 03, 2022

Content warning: blood

Twelve family members sit along a mahogany table, their smiles stiff and saccharine as the pecan pie that lies in front of them.

They shift in their seats, the light overlap of small talk giving the impression of closeness, love, family.

Eleven times does the woman’s youngest daughter lock eyes, uneasy, with her. It was a surprise to them all when the woman invited the entirety of their close family to dinner. A family that had rejected her for the past —

Ten years. A family that had shunned her, cut her off from the large fortune she was to inherit. Dollar bills the color of the collard greens that steamed in the delicate dish.

Nine teeth on the serrated knife, jagged and smooth, cut through a slice of sweet potato pie. The orange mush, the woman thinks, is as soft as flesh. As sweet as vengeance.

Eight bodies squirm at the slow smile the mother at the head of the table wears as she chews on her pie. They know that the woman has always been scheming, never kind and always spiteful. So this meal, her hosting after being cut off of what she was owed, was nothing short of bizarre.

Seven pieces of stuffing fall onto the table, slipping from a fork that is frozen mid-air as the husband stares at his strange wife. He knows she has never forgotten her family abandoning her.

Never forgiven him for thinking light of the situation, that she was too irresponsible to have the money anyway.

It is because of this that he knows that that smile, as smooth as snakeskin, means nothing good.

Six times does the woman cut through the turkey. She closes her eyes and imagines that the sauces that seep through are not sauces at all. She breaks the tender meat, and imagines blood pooling on the plate. The best seasoning, really; she was out for it tonight.

Five seconds of abrupt silence follow the ear-splitting screech of a knife against a plate. Heads turn to the head of the table, where the woman holds up her glass of cider. Her smile spreads slow as she proposes a toast.

To family.

Four sips do each of them take, savoring the tart sweetness and the odd bitter taste that follows.

Three seconds is all it takes for each of the 11 heads to drop like flies. A melodious bang and jingle of silverware sounds as each falls, like dominoes. Like a masterful plan coming together.

Two eyes watch a family, a rotten, rotten family fall apart. And red, red blood seeps from their noses.

One woman sits and chews on her turkey, her lips red with cranberry sauce.

Contact Zainab Adam at 


DECEMBER 03, 2022