Poetry & Prose

Why I Cook Beans When I Want To Cry

Her hands are sturdier than her words

they lack hesitation

They move the same

As the ones that came before them

Information passed without words, lessons learned

By watching.


Crush the garlic, use the flat side of the knife

Just so.

And when you cut open the onion

It is acceptable to shed

Three tears,

Maybe four.

But do not brush them away. Let them drip off your chin and fall into the pot.

Instead of shedding more, smile, and

Sort the beans.


Lesson learned:

There are certain things we do not speak of.

Leave the pot to simmer,

4 hours—maybe more. Don’t look at the clock.

The beans will be done when

The frown lines between her eyes are relaxed. When

Her hands can sit still without






After dinner, bellies full, her hands will rub lullabies onto my back;

they dance a known path, they move the same

As the ones that came before them.

they tell the stories of the past, every night the same stories until

their truth is worn onto my back.


My sister, moma, Mamá Mima,

That is how you know we are family

All our backs look the same.

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