Before You Go

Pale, thin
In that bed
at eighty
your skin glows
you promised me your mother’s
recipe for homemade facials
teach me how to mint pure cider vinegar
to freshen me.
until today you only taught me of
hot toddies and plum jam.

I am listening
teach me the old ways
I need your living yeast
your apron around me
grainy with flour
measure me the recipes
your mother made you practice
’til you knew their feel.

I have not put in my time.

Teach me with your own hands
blue-veined, crooked hands you worked so hard
to shape
hands that birthed my mother, my sister,
hands that soothed me at my baptismal
hands gnarled with stories
I have not yet heard.

I cannot learn these things
from strangers
teach me
your ways
your mother’s mother’s ways-


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