Orysia Dawydiak

My Mother’s Kitchen

Only silence in the old kitchen
still neat and clean
as if she just stepped out for a walk
five minutes ago

An embroidered Madonna gazes down
from a virgin white wall
I look away
see the tidy necklace of steel utensils, hanging
The wooden cylinder with red handles
stops my nervous eyes

And she is back at her table, thick arms
pressing down, rolling back and forth
squeezing obedient dough
stretching it to the far reaches of the table
without a single tear

She punches out circles, pliant discs
stuffs them with smashed potato
pinches them shut, all lined up in even rows
patiently waiting for their boiling bath

Then a shout
A raised rolling pin
A frightened scramble for the door and down the street
away from the steaming kitchen
the madwoman and sweating walls

The air is cool now, in this abandoned kitchen
Not a smudge of flour remains on the rolling pin
The Madonna’s stitched mouth frowns
You’re late as usual she says

I nod, afraid yet pleased
She is gone, and always here

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