Poetry: “My mother, this way” by Karen Beardslee Kwasny

My mother, 

This way


Reaches a hand across

the bed we share

to tap my thigh good night.

It is a calling to my

childhood, this time with her

these days, at this age.

We sleep face to face,

her breath soft against my

forehead, still humming

as she does when she is

awake and busy — intent on

the task of teaching me

what she has already

taught me, has never

before taught me.


“This is how you make the bread.”

She says.

By hand

we mix the ingredients


a bit of flour at a time

until arms heavy

with the motion, we

turn it out, smooth

and textured and roll it

over itself.

She presses her

small hands into the dough,

like a breast, round and firm.

And presses her small

weight down in folds.


“See,” she says to me,

“this is how you knead.”

And turns the needing

over to me

so I might know

how to put the weight of me

into dough

and forget myself

in the creation

of smooth elasticity.


My mother

this way

teaches me what I already know,

what she knows

I do not know — yet —

about the

hours of rising and punching


of waiting for ready —

the patience of bread.

Karen Beardslee Kwasny, a writer and educator, is the assistant director at St. Leo University’s South Hampton Roads Center at Naval Air Station Oceana. She lives in Ashville Park, and she represents the Princess Anne District on the Virginia Beach Planning Commission. This poem is from her chapbook, Legacy. 

Published by permission.

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