2022 Pushcart Prize Nominee - In the America of My Mother’s Kitchen by Dasia Sharae Moore
Dasia Sharae Moore
In the America of My Mother’s Kitchen
If while washing dishes, a daughter lets soapwater spill,
she is destined to become a bad wife. I, despite lusting
after goodness, always left the floor slick with evidence.
I’ve always wanted to ask, what was the love like
when it caught you? I was weeping in a car in Georgia,
pretending not to know why. I did not roll the windows down.
I asked forgiveness for lying, in America’s church. For imagining
a man I would not love cajoling me into sin. God forgives a girl
who lets men spill her, be sloppy, make violent moves
that leave her spread across the kitchen floor. In forgiving man,
girl becomes woman and god. I prayed for violence to make me
worthy, to write for me a story wise and holy women would tell
and retell in their kitchens. Women did not love women
in their kitchens; I knew the things God would forgive. But
that America is dead, the car radio announced the day love
found me in Georgia. I wept over kitchen cupboards, almost
believing, still thinking of the America I knew was hiding there,
secreted behind bottles of disinfectant, invisible and iridescent,
a sud skating over a mistaken pool. I thought of being a bad wife
to a good man or a good wife to a bad one. I remembered the wives’
tale correctly then: Lousy washers marry no man at all.
I’ve always wanted to ask, did I imagine you correctly? A daughter
at your separate sink, scalding the hands that I would hold,
queasy with thoughts that I have thought, dishwater swishing
in your belly. I’ve pictured you dropping the soap. Drying
your hands. Realizing. Coming to tell me—
In this revision, I fill a bucket
with water and disinfectants. I stand with you in my mother’s kitchen, holding America
face-down. We laugh clean, slick, iridescent bubbles, we two American daughters.
We are holy. We have evidence. We do not care for the water that spills.