Alive

By 
Nilofahr Shidmehr

Under the knife blade,
my mother’s broken hand in a sling,
purple peel strips off
over the face of the counter.

Her cheek, swollen, is marked
by a bruise, the shape of an eggplant.
She tilts over to check if the meat
is soft. The oil leaps up, scalds.
She pulls back, leans on a crutch hidden
under the torn wing of her white chador.
I see the scratches on her neck
as she turns her head. The wooden spoon
slips from her fingers onto the floor.

She bends to pick it up, but I reach out first,
snap up the spoon, flinging it into the basin.
Who are you cooking for? Do you know?
I yell, shoving her aside,
taking her place at the stove.
He loves his deep-fried eggplant,
she whispers, pursing her lips.

The stew simmers slowly.
But I turn my head away and hold
onto the image from the week past
swirling around, again, in my head—

Feet tangled in the hem of her chador;
my father, leaning over the banister,
slips his hands back in his pockets,
watching as she rolls down the stairs,

still alive.

Nilofar Shidmehr has lived in Vancouver, B.C., for the past seven years. She is currently an MFA student in UBC’s department of Theater, Film, and Creative Writing. She writes fiction, poetry, and screenplays, and does freelance editing. Currently, she is working on a collection of poetry and prose called Shirin and the Salty Man.

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