Joan Mazza worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, and taught workshops on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self . Her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Italian Americana, Poet Lore, Slant, The Nation , and elsewhere. She lives in rural central Virginia.
Fish on Fridays
After a day bent to a sewing machine
making party dresses, my mother walked
to Sheepshead Bay, in time to meet the boats
returning with their catch. She pointed
to a blue fish, freshly dead, said, That one.
The man wrapped it in white paper, handed
it up to her on the dock. She walked home
while planning dinner. Without fear,
she gutted and cleaned the fish, scales
flying in the tiny Brooklyn kitchen,
which wasn’t built for cooks like her. TV
dinners were in style, but my mother never
bought one, never served soda or chips, not
even for parties. On Fridays, it was fish
with the bones still in, salad, and a green
vegetable. My mother cooked, never
complained about the effort for good food.
It was her job, after her job. We waited
to be served. No, we never thanked her.
For my father, she broiled a steak because
he didn’t like fish, and he’d worked all day.