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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.

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