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  • @ Cynthia Adina Kirkwood

Mami's Hands



The author and her mother, Emanda Elizabeth Kirkwood, in July 1957 at the neighborhood Astoria Pool in Queens, New York

Mami’s Hands


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

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