Give and Take

by | Feb 4, 2023

Bulges tremor off skin yoking Dad’s innards with Jello mounds of acidic rage. He carries these parasitic planets on his back like the estranged family who carry the true lineage of his genes. Mom lances the herd, one-by-one, in the bathroom while we hide behind the door and gorge on the banquet of shrieking Dad. High-squealing eunuchs our cat-in-heat can’t even deliver somehow blaze out of this stupefied soprano man.

His shoulders slope demarcations of Mondays. Yet prevail he does to hijinx depression out of his favorite catalysts: us. We are separate balls of hatred leached on to Dad. Humiliation, degradation, disgust, and the youngest flattens under the shadows.

But Dad loads us in the back seat of the family sedan each and every Sunday, soaped up and silent. One place we shine and slick for show is the front pew of the church.


  1. Dominique Christina

    Yep the description of dad carrying “parasitic planets on his back” and the subsequent soprano yelps and children witnessing and later scrubbed and front pew perfect. For me this is the girth that can be found in the seemingly mundane. The way our mothers groomed our fathers. The hierarchies in families. The children who are always witnesses whether they elect that or not. There’s universality in these kinds of images. The rituals in families and what we decide to let them mean. We all have some proximity to these movements. I can find my grandmother and grandfather in this story. My best friend’s mother and father in this story. I can locate myself eavesdropping on moments between adults in my home. You give, in a short burst, a few ways for us to enter the story. Yep. In and out and always crispy. Thank you for this.

  2. Karen Keefe

    So well done, the reader is going to pay attention to what is happening on either side of that door. The naming of the kids. I loved, “..we shine and slick for show..”. Thank you.

  3. Sheree Shatsky

    As mentioned by Dominique, the universality of the images, all about appearances, those families seated so perfect on the front row of the church. I feel the silent screams of the kids, but know they reach for the hymnals and release rage in song. TY for this, Meg.

  4. Koss (No Last Name)

    Again, you’ve ripped the skin off the rotten fruit to reveal the truthy flesh inside. “High-squealing eunuchs our cat-in-heat can’t even deliver somehow blaze out of this stupefied soprano man.” So great. Thanks for sharing this. You give others permissions of sorts when you share your writing.

  5. Robert Vaughan

    Hi MEG!!! What you do with language, words, sentences is superior and brilliant! Each a world unto its own (a la our pal, Garielle!) Truly, these short family glimpses remind the reader of how bleak, how universally FUCKED, we all are. No rosy glossed over bullshit ever in your work. And I LOVE YOU for being the truth teller, the sage, the risk taker, master that you are.

  6. Len Kuntz


    It’s a marvel, the way you bend language to your will, the way you begin with tension and then just keep turning it up like a drill slowly boring through a forehead or heart.
    And that last line is perfect. A mic drop.
    Sheer brilliance.

  7. jennifer vanderheyden

    You had me securing my seat belt with the first sentence! You lay it all out, capture the horror with those gut-wrenching images. Kids as catalysts for Dad’s terror, which serves as catalyst for brilliant writing. Love!

  8. Julia Bouwsma

    Meg, there is so much animal is this, oozing out from under the “civilized” human veneer. I LOVE IT! “Mom lances the herd”—so gross and wonderful! The cat in heat. The gorging and squealing. Every word is working overtime here. Especially your verbs. “Leached” is perfect. And the final sentence—”One place we shine and slick for show is the front pew of the church.”—is brilliant and absolutely made “shine and slick” as verbs. Slick. Both clean and unctuous at once. Even the sound of this sentence in the mouth is slippery.

  9. Ryan Griffith

    Wow, Meg, I can’t believe the things you do with language here. The risks you take are always incredibly inspiring. Thank you for this work!

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