Judie Rae: The Salad

Grandma was a good cook
except
for the molded Jello salad she made
every holiday. It was lime green
in color and filled with carrots and celery
and green olives stuffed with pimientos.
(I’m not making this up; check it out online.)

Who would create such a thing?
My cousin, cringing, recalls it as well.
Every Thanksgiving, Jello graced
the table, shimmering in the candlelight,
waiting for some brave soul
to dig in.

After my first try, I politely declined,
or worse, took a slice and smashed it
around on my plate
to make it look as though
I had eaten some, fooling no one.
(This was not something you could
feed the dog under the table.)

Why remains the question.
Julia Child must have fainted.
Why didn’t someone speak up,
suggest Grandma make a cherry pie
instead of the atrocity
that shook every time
a dish was passed.

Thank God, the tradition
died when she did, though
I will long remember
that molded slop
sitting next to the turkey
and glistening after dinner
on the kitchen counter
while we children silently applauded
its demise, anxious
for the remains to sink
to the depths of the garbage pail,
absent from our lives . . .
until the next year.