The Prodigal Daughter: Reclaiming an Unfinished Childhood by Margaret Gibson

By Margaret Gibson

This talented poet's memoir is the tale of an inquisitive and delicate younger woman's coming of age and a deeply relocating recounting of her reconciliation later in lifestyles with the family members she left at the back of. Hers is the tale of a mom proud to be a woman, a Southerner, and a Christian; of 2 daughters trapped via their mother's energy; and in their father's breakdown below social and kinfolk expectancies. sluggish to insurgent, younger Margaret ultimately flees the realm of manners and custom--which she deems bad substitutes for correct suggestion and correct motion within the face of the Civil Rights flow and the Vietnam War--and abandons her fundamentalist upbringing. After years of being the far-off, absent daughter, she reveals herself returning domestic to satisfy the desires of her stroke-crippled more youthful sister and her incapacitated mom and dad.

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Extra info for The Prodigal Daughter: Reclaiming an Unfinished Childhood

Sample text

Pinned to my mother’s mirror, just beyond where he stood, was a yellowing newspaper photograph of me and two classmates, Marianne Graves and Helen Rose, the three of us dressed as angels. The two teachers and the photographer kept telling us how to stand, where to put our hands, smile now, hold it, don’t move. Mom was so pleased with the photograph, she let it stay on the mirror, yellowing. She said I looked just like an angel. She said I had been chosen. In the pageant, all the first graders were to be multitudes of the heavenly host.

Daddy helped her to hook up. ” She meant her voice to carry from the kitchen, past the phone that rang two shorts and a long, and into the office where T did accounts. ” And T would have Marie pluck her a hen. ” I hated snap beans cooked until their seams split and the beans turned a washed-out, flaccid olive drab. But Aunt T promised a ham hock—Mom could cook up her own green beans. In Richmond, at home, dinner was not served on platters. Mom fixed our plates in the kitchen, and we brought them to the table.

Then they flared. Then they went flat and dead-looking. Before that look, I trembled, afraid I’d wet my pants. There were clean, drying sheets from Friday’s washing hanging on the wires. Could I hide behind them or roll myself up in one? Could I say, “Daddy, please . ” or “Daddy, don’t you dare . ”? Anything I tried to say would only make it worse. When I heard his footsteps on the stairs, I tried to measure his anger from the weight of his step on the treads. When he reached me, I handed him the belt without looking at him.

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