Iowa Writes

THERESA ADDISON
Hot Dish


After we finished making love, I lay down in bed next to Vernon, hoping my body would respond again the next time. I fell asleep, listening to the rhythm of his breathing.

When Charlie woke me with his crying, I slid out of bed, careful not to disturb Vernon, gathered my clothes, and shut the bedroom door. I turned on the radio in the kitchen and took Charlie outside. I had a sling I carried him in when I went for walks or on errands. We went down to the small grocery by our house and bought a box of cereal, a box of macaroni and cheese, a pound of hamburger, and a can of peas. Except for the cereal, they were the ingredients for a pasta dish I made every three weeks. The clerk said, "How you doing Delta? See you're making hot dish again." Between Vernon and I, hot dish lasted for three or four days.

After returning to the apartment and lying Charlie down in his crib, I put water on to boil and dumped the hamburger into a frying pan.

The food vouchers I got from WIC paid for most of the food. To qualify for the program, I filled out a form a nurse gave me when Charlie was born. The program would provide food for me as long as I was breast feeding and well-child care and food for Charlie until he went to school. When I delivered the paperwork to the county's social services office, the public health nurse said she needed to make a home visit, because Charlie was less than six pounds when he was born.

After we finished making love, I lay down in bed next to Vernon, hoping my body would respond again the next time. I fell asleep, listening to the rhythm of his breathing.

When Charlie woke me with his crying, I slid out of bed, careful not to disturb Vernon, gathered my clothes, and shut the bedroom door. I turned on the radio in the kitchen and took Charlie outside. I had a sling I carried him in when I went for walks or on errands. We went down to the small grocery by our house and bought a box of cereal, a box of macaroni and cheese, a pound of hamburger, and a can of peas. Except for the cereal, they were the ingredients for a pasta dish I made every three weeks. The clerk said, "How you doing Delta? See you're making hot dish again." Between Vernon and I, hot dish lasted for three or four days.

After returning to the apartment and lying Charlie down in his crib, I put water on to boil and dumped the hamburger into a frying pan.

The food vouchers I got from WIC paid for most of the food. To qualify for the program, I filled out a form a nurse gave me when Charlie was born. The program would provide food for me as long as I was breast feeding and well-child care and food for Charlie until he went to school. When I delivered the paperwork to the county's social services office, the public health nurse said she needed to make a home visit, because Charlie was less than six pounds when he was born.

She showed up early for the visit and barely looked at him. She was there to check up on me. As I opened the can of peas, the sharp lid reminded me of her sharp tongue. She snooped around the apartment, asking pointed questions before she launched into a diatribe on housekeeping, childcare, and nutrition. She seemed to think I was inexperienced; I felt like I was being scolded. I had little knowledge of babies, but I had common sense. As I fried the hamburger, chopping and breaking it into smaller and smaller bits, I mashed her words into the bottom of the pan.

I think she figured out I was capable; she became more pleasant toward the end of her stay and didn't come back. What bothered me even more was that she never asked to see or talk to Vernon. In her mind, raising children was women's work. When I made the appointment, I offered to set up a time when he could be there. She said it wasn't necessary.

After adding milk, butter, and powdered cheese to the noodles, I poured the peas, the hamburger, and the nurse's visit in with the noodles and put the dish in the oven. I cleaned up the kitchen, used my breast pump to fill a bottle for Charlie, and got ready for work. Before I left, I turned off the oven, wrote a note for Vernon, and opened the bedroom door to make sure he would hear Charlie.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


THERESA ADDISON

Theresa Addison is originally from Iowa. She received her MFA in visual arts from the University of Minnesota and now teaches art in the Minneapolis area. She has attended writing classes at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.

This page was first displayed
on March 10, 2010

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