Monday, 4 March 2013

My Becoming

Pinned to my mother’s side
Condemned to watch
When too young to cook
Cook when too old to watch
She watches me now

Moving to an anthem of gasps
That strangle the air
As my outstretched hands
Unleash tong like bare
Fingers, hugging the shoulders
Of a boiling pot to safety

With waving hands
And concrete words she
Rescues the air
From a pack of startled women
“My daughter can handle it”
She says.
Something in my mother’s tone

Unclipped my wings.
Was that pride she wore like skin?
The assurance of a teacher who
Laid down the tracks of my becoming
And watched the foundations rise
Beyond her humble classroom

Watching her face
I am 5 again
Tracing the road to 30
Viewing the sites

Stilted by 4 wooden legs
Pounding laughter from cookie dough
Moulding her face into smiles

Mentally minuting
The water before the rice
The boil before the rise
The wisdom in her eyes
The guests before the husband before myself

Sweeping tears away,
Finding obligation scratched
Onto kitchen floors, reducing
Parental commentary into
Sauce, pounding sibling rivalry
Into yam, understanding nothing

Carving independence
The flower of her words
Finally blossom in a soil of
Experience. In foreign lands
But kitchens always
Call in my mother’s voice.

My kitchen now
Memories buried in every pot
I hold my mother’s eyes
And smile, letting myself
On the wings of her pride

©Tolulola Agbelusi

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