She’s chopping carrots
on the bamboo cutting board
the knife slicing,
permanently and irrevocably.
She asks me when I came home last night
in the beat to the blade
rocking on the board.
She leaves no time for pauses
and continues on a motherly tirade
each stroke closer to my tongue
escaping out my mouth
and the inevitable slap across my face.
Ladies don’t come home at 2am.
Her words reverberate,
resounding off the board
and only the scraping of steel on bamboo
occupies the space between us.

In our fury, blood, spit and
a million misunderstandings
spill over with one misstep.
Our words are curt and sharp
as that knife and we battle
endlessly as we’ve been taught.
Neither one backing down
because pride is all we got
in common, and a struggle
I articulate in my college rhetoric.
When really all she wants to know
is if she raised a good child,
a good daughter.
Her personhood founded on
being a good mother.

As she starts to mince onions,
my silence stings with each passing second.
I want to tell her:
I am good.
Just not in the way she wants.

Jenny C. Lares is a poet and the Founding Co-Director of Sulu DC, an underground network and home for Asian American and/or Pacific Islander (AAPI) multidisciplinary artists in the D.C. area. On the 3rd Saturday of every month, she curates a showcase of emerging and established AAPI artists from local and national scenes. Ms. Lares also hosts the 4th Tuesday Open Mic Night at Busboys and Poets (14th & V). She has featured at Busboys and Poets, Artomatic, and Mothertongue, and has performed at the APIA Spoken Word & Poetry Summit(s), the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC, and the Asian Arts Initiative in Philadelphia. Her work was recently published in the anthology, Walang Hiya: literature taking risks toward liberatory practice, published by Carayan Press.

In the Kitchen Chopping Vegetables by Jenny C. Lares (c) Copyright Jenny C. Lares; printed by permission of the author. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (cyclonebill).

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