The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®

 

Catherine Rankovic

Carol Burnett's Daughter (1963 - 2002)

 

I paid my mother back for all the howling

she did as singing. For all her laughing

and fruit-flavored warbling, her barnyard of a face

a character actress’s. For naming me Carrie, as in burden.

For my mother’s improbable ascent to fame, funded

anonymously. For not being more than a television star,

for the buckteeth white as cream, for the jaw gene, for her cap

of matronly hair, her narrow repertoire. She had only one shtick,

farce; one expression, as hard to restrain as sunrise: glee.

For costuming, bespectacling, and frumping herself as she did.

I was the one she tugged her earlobe for. Embarrassing.

Therapists while I was detoxed said I bore

her anger. For naming my sisters Jody and Erin, ugly names

mothers gave children then. For marrying her producer,

my father. For my birth, because the eldest child

is an ambition, a premiere, the other children the hit.

 

 

 

CATHERINE RANKOVIC teaches poetry and creative nonfiction writing in the online M.F.A. program at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. Her essays and poems have appeared in December, Midwestern Gothic, Boulevard, The Missouri Review, The Iowa Review, River Styx, Umbrella, MARGIE, The Progressive, Natural Bridge, Gulf Coast, other journals, and four anthologies. She is the author of five books including Meet Me: Writers in St. Louis (Penultimate Press).

 

 

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