The author and her mother, Emanda Elizabeth Kirkwood, in July 1957 at the neighborhood Astoria Pool in Queens, New York
As a girl, I admired Mami kneading bread,
Spellbound by the rolling, the coaxing and the punching.
I lusted for the strength of her hands.
As a toddler, I marveled at her ability to lift me effortlessly.
I was getting bigger and knew that I would soon miss the safety of her hands.
Once out of them, I felt I’d never be as expert, as certain, with mine.
I had so much to learn, so much to practice.
When would my hands know what to do before I did?
Now, as a woman, I see that Mami wasn’t expert, she wasn’t certain.
I had watched her working in the dark much of the time.
And when I myself knead bread, I see her hands.
12 February 2001