Thursday, November 28, 2013

Where to Begin

I passed a row of apartment buildings. Golden windows, holiday trim. There, a mother and daughter might be preparing a splendid meal for two, setting places, lighting candles. I remembered the seriousness with which my mother and I would set about on such a day. The cold hadn't a chance against the might of our meal, hot and thick with onions and garlic, boiling, baking, all day. We curated a fine table of mismatched (but porcelain!) bright prints and stainless steel, polished with the attention of a redolent silver; fresh greens whenever we could. Our clothes lay expectantly on our beds, pressed for pride's sake, waiting as we scrubbed the city's pain from ourselves the best we could. Steamed windows and faint music apply themselves to these memories with wisps of bittersweet. I am grateful she is my mother.

Now and here there are greens at my table, candles too, the best linens I can provide. My men carry heavy things about the house in the business of helping, tools clanging, important expressions. My girls wear my sighs, burdened, and start to sway about in the way a woman does at the kitchen. There are bowls and boxes and cups of flour stalwart among the decor; the toil and tire of the holiday is at hand. Johnny Mathis keeps the time. I am midway and know that I am the keeper of the steamed-window memories. And I am grateful, too, that I am a mother.

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