We recently published Meg Pokrass’s stellar “Maternal.”

Here, we ask her two questions about her story:

1) I like the subtleties in the relationship between mother and daughter here — you learn so much about the characters from this one interaction. Is it hard to choose what to showcase in a piece this small?

Yes, it was hard. I tried to focus on the daughter’s sad awareness that her mother has been unable nurture her all these years since her father left, but here (in this situation) is finally able to do so. There has been a rift between these two for some time, a lack of closeness, a rupture that never healed.
Unfortunately, it took something as dramatic as being attacked for the mother’s maternal instincts to resurface and for the daughter’s empathy for her mother to resurface as well.

2) The mother makes a “dangerous chili” for the daughter. I’m curious — what makes the chili dangerous?

I’m afraid this was a bit of dark humor thrown in. My mother would make chili occasionally, and she’d always make it so hot nobody could really enjoy it. I referred to it as “dangerous chili” when she’d make it. I thought: if there is ever a story for dangerous chili to make an appearance, this is it. The chilli is a metaphor for the mother’s inability to offer sustenance her daughter can digest.