My Grandmother's Pie Plate

By Kiley Bense

September 24, 2018

My Grandmother's Pie Plate

I'm the one filling it now, and I've never minded sugar under my fingernails less. Its surface is dark with shine; it's been swallowing butter and heat for two lifetimes at least. I watch the pie bake: tiny globes of strawberry like rubies spit up from the earth. The red stains on my hands are trophies. I lick them off.

I remember her hands, sunspotted and blue, a trace of rose perfume on her wrists and a Hail Mary on her tongue. Did she like coaxing water, flour, and fat into communion? She would have needed two pies, three pies, four pies to meet the family’s need. Ten places at her table, ten forks, ten napkins triangled. Here, my imagination falters. Ten plates I can’t grasp, the weight of all that hunger.

Her opal is around my neck now, one stone like a moon caught with gold thread. An absence that makes my mother into a daughter again, standing at my side, sifting sugar grains in her red hands.

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