Her Hands

Mama’s hands remind me of sweet figs of the summer.

They are the hands of a woman who bears history and four children between them.

Years of labor have toughened the surface, yet their touch is still the gentlest one I know.

Mama nourishes souls with her hands.

She is the keeper of all secrets, the healer of all wounds.

She knows the things that stay unspoken.

She is as strong as the roots of olive trees ripped from the soil of the home she still yearns for.

Mama never speaks of pain, until now.

Here, I hold her hands between my own that are still pale and unworn by the things she has already bared.

Tears flow down her face, slow like the virgin olive oil she dips with her fingers.

At last she breaks, cries out for her kitchen.

Now? Here?

Yes, because mama comes alive in the kitchen.

Feeding people is her lifeline, and so she cries out: take me home to my kitchen, please.

The place where people sit and fall in love with her and her work.

This is mama.

And in this moment, I know for the first time ever, it is my turn to stand rooted for her.

So I call on the one surah I know.

It is the one she whispered to me in the nights of my younger past.

I whisper it back to her now, after all these years.

I pause to catch my breath when I remember the twisted remnants that were left behind.

I know that He has heard me, because here is mama, filled with pain, but full of life.

And so I drop down to my knees so low that I can feel the earth deep in my skin.

I place my forehead on the ground, and exhale glorious relief.

And I thank God in every name I know, because I will get to see mama’s hands in her kitchen once again.

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