Daddy and the Christmas Ham
by Alarie Tennille

“Hurry!” we’d say,
but Daddy wouldn’t,
carving the Smithfield ham
so thin you could see
the light through it.
No matter how many
empty dinner rolls waited,
he would saw with slow precision,
gripping the greasy handle
of the knife, its blade
worn into a thin arc
like the growing hollow
of the shank. As each pink
sheet came free, he would
hold it up for inspection.
“How’s this?” he’d ask,
relishing his rare chance
to impress the whole family.

SOURCE: A version of this poem was published in the author’s book, Running Counterclockwise.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Notice that Daddy is all dressed up to carve the messy ham. For some reason he’s wearing a name tag in his own kitchen, too. I grew up very near Smithfield, Virginia, and their peanut-fed, salt-cured hams are a delicacy we ate every Christmas. The ham is too tough and salty unless sliced very thin. Only when I was grown and cooking my own ham did I appreciate what a slow, difficult job that is.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Alarie Tennille was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Virginia in the first class admitting women. She misses the ocean, but loves the writing community she’s found in Kansas City, Missouri. Alarie serves on the Emeritus Board of The Writers Place. Alarie’s poetry collection, Running Counterclockwise, was First Runner Up for the 2015 Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence.  She’s also written a chapbook, Spiraling into Control, and her poems have appeared in numerous journals including Margie, Poetry East, I-70 Review, Midwest Quarterly Review, and Southern Women’s Review. Visit her at alariepoet.com.