Bio Note: Although I have lived almost my whole life in Appalachian Ohio, I'm fortunate to have friends all over the United States (and have been happy to hear from many of you!). The outcome of a conversation with an Iowan friend of Norwegian descent, here is a sermon on gratitude from a Lutefisk— the dried, then resurrected whitefish that continues to enjoy popularity/notoriety in traditionally Scandinavian communities of the Upper Midwest during the Christmas season. If you are unfamiliar with this delicacy, may I suggest a quick Google search? Everyone should at least be aware of lutefisk, for many reasons.
Lutefisk Lays the Word of Cod on Gretchen From Edina
When you compare me to the ugly Christmas sweaters, and wield me with a brittle laugh against your ex’s fiancé (“You’re marrying into this!”), when you dismiss me as the punchline of an ethnic joke, too uncool to even be a dare, and let your middle-schooler eat, instead, the meatballs, don’t act surprised when Pastor finds him vaping in the bushes. I see it all from Heaven, Gretchen. There’s Fish Heaven. You have the house, the alimony. A wine chiller. You have 4-wheel drive and want to speak with managers. Have you forgotten how they came, the great and great-great grandparents, to Minnesota? They only had each other, but their poverty was clean. Gelid years of salt and lye and thrift and Lutheran Jesus—so many sanitary hands prepared this meal. Take and eat: my body their substantiation, sacred as the bland communion wafers. What greater love than giving up oneself to nourish others? It tastes intentional, like sacrifice and soap.
Originally published in Midwest Review
©2020 Sean Kelbley
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