The Gioconda Smile of Betty Crocker

She never had to pick up
a dead field mouse with the palm of her hand.
She never had to deal with her cat
bringing in a dead bird in its mouth.
She never dealt with bedbugs,
bitter people who didn’t get what they wanted from life.
She never had to deal with people who told her
if you listened to me, everything will be okay.
She never had to worry about doctor’s appointments,
wondering if her insurance will be cut off
or hoarding medication just in case.

She dealt with glasses of Tang,
women who wanted Tiffany Boxes,
making butterbeans on the stove.
She gave children sour apple lollipops
but warned them ahead of time they might not like the taste.
She never scampered off to a job she hated
never had mud flung on her calves on a rainy morning
or had her hair mussed up.
She had the Gioconda smile of a woman who never knew a bad day
when it was always 75 degrees and sunny outside
never burned a meal
and cakes always turned out perfect.

Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons


Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons has been published in Salon, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Stereo Embers, The Billfold and Bird’s Thumb. A recent MFA graduate from Vermont College of Fine Arts, she lives in Central California and is working on a memoir.

© 2019