Slicing Tomatoes

Image: “Slicing Tomatoes” by Elsa Valmidiano, 2017

She never cuts herself –
the way my mother slices tomatoes –
you gotta see it.
Holding the fruit in her right palm
she swiftly splits the flesh with her left
the blade pointing
toward her thumb
never nicking herself
but gracefully slicing –

precise ambidextrous magic
like effortlessly skipping stones.

Both her parents left-handed
but forced to be right-handed during the war
my mother inherited the secrets of both
manifesting the compromise
which made no room
for Other.

Her own mother marveled at the way
she sliced tomatoes. And I thought
all mothers learned from theirs.
“She never learned from me,” Lola said.
“I don’t know who she learned from.”

I suppose learning from one’s mother
is not always true.
On slicing like she did
I never learned from mine.

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