So much of who we are is birthed of ritual,
& this, the holiest, a mystery to you, how
calloused hands can minister such tenderness.
Set you a minute in the kitchen, tuck your
seat neat in the corner, where you won’t
miss a thing. Smell that scorch, that singe
of stovetop on brass tines, so hot they hum
like some torqued-up tuning fork. Watch those
hands soothe grease along roots’ edge, thick,
an anointing, a blessing, a psalm. Steal from this
moment secrets no boy could ever know: that
you’ve not got what it takes to woman your way
through the dust of the day. That every balm’s
not for the benefit of the burn. That so much
of mothering is slinging gossamer over the sear
of this world. That this, too, is a cost. That there’s
always a cost. & here, near the end of it, so close, you
thought, to clasping the key in your own artless grasp,
learn that you can’t learn every secret, least the one
most locked to you: how much it hurts to be a girl.
From original kink by Jubi Arriola-Headley. Used with the permission of the publisher, Sibling Rivalry Press. Copyright © 2020 by Jubi Arriola-Headley.