You keep this for luck. It reminds you of the chicken you made with your grandmother when she showed you her best kept secrets for moist chicken. You try to forget the large wine stain she made on her best tablecloth (which you have since inherited) when she got drunk and spilled her wine when she got upset over the fact that her sister got the silver and all she got was the lousy china. Damn China. It was really a small matter and you have always thought it was too bad she couldn’t remember the finer things about that dinner. Like the way the chicken just fell off the bone and into everyone’s mouth and the way that the light softened the look on everyone’s face so that by dusk we seemed the very picture of the perfect happy family. Spilled wine be damned.
When the meal ended you carefully put everything in the kitchen. Tracing the outline of the dogwood blooms on the fine white china and wondering why your grandmother hated the china so much and also wondering why someone with so much hate for china could make such damn fine chicken. You see the weary evening of cleaning stretching before you while grandma has leaned her chin into her chest and begun to snore. Parts of the family are chatting quietly and others are putting on their coats. You alone remain in the kitchen scraping gravy remains into the trash and eating the last of the homemade rolls that smell just like grandmother. Making rolls, you think, will be next week’s lesson. As you slowly clean and put away the china and sip red wine you find that grandma has already been there, somehow carving the small wishbone from between the two clavicles of the birds neck. She has set it on the rim of the sink on a paper towel next to her diamond rings. Meat hangs on it and you pick it up and turn it carefully in your hands.
You pack it with your things and take it home and place it in your sock drawer. Grandmother died several years later, you remember her, at every chicken dinner from now until your own granddaughter takes over making chicken dinner. And you remember her when you are tipsy with red wine and especially then you get out your wishbone and turn it over in your hands and remember that night and the spilled wine and the glorious chicken and wonder what on earth your grandmother would have wished for had she been given the opportunity to pull this bone.
Amy for the Poplar Grove Muse