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Inheritance

flour on my nose
the faded apron
that was my mother's
loose around my waist
but she pins it up for me
carefully, so not a drop of blood escapes
she hands me the eggs
one, two, three
I crack them into the bowl
the yolks swimming together
like three little suns
against the sky blue porcelain
and only a little shell gets mixed in with the eggs
as my small hands fumble them,
not yet as sure fingered as I will become
but now I squeeze the dough between my fingertips
cool and squishy
like mud after a fresh rain
and my mother does not scold when it hits the floor
but laughs
and picks it up
and breaks off a piece for me to eat
and one for her, as well
her practiced hands
fold and roll
fold and roll
no little pieces stick to the board
I am not quite as lucky
but she smiles
ever patient
and fixes it
like she fixes everything else
we rub more flour on the rolling pin
and eat bits of dough when we think the other is not looking
the happy smile
in her eyes
that only shows itself when we bake together
and her hair
usually so neat and fine
is pulled back
with a snapdragon I picked for her tucked into the tie
a little bit of flour on her nose, as well
I like these times
when there are only smiles
and I get her all to my self
my mother
young and single then
more my friend than anything
she lets me squeeze the handle on the sifter
but I can only manage one or two laborious pulls
the handle spaced too far apart
for my little hands to grasp
but she finishes it off
hands quick and strong and soft with flour
and guides my hands
on the old electric mixer
that used to be her grandmothers
and will some day be mine
carefully wiping the bits of batter
off the plastic
to make it last
I know that it is special to her
because my great grandmother died last summer
but just as she passed on her apron
and will one day the mixer
I have inherited her love of baking
but now
the apron needs no pins
and no shell escapes into the eggs
and it is my hands
who go fold and roll
fold and roll
hands quick and strong and soft with flour
and she no longer sifts the flour
nor is she all mine





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