This piece first appeared in the Winter Reading issue (#50) of our Gravy quarterly.
Mise en Place
by Melissa Dickson
It’s a routine mole removal, but he charts
the dark sweep of skin inside his patient’s forearm,
an oven burn long since healed to this calligraphy.
He sees them every day, four or five inches beyond the palm,
proof that when the timer chimes its impatient trill
these women grab dishrags instead of oven mitts
It’s written here as clear as the cookbooks
she’s long since stopped consulting: the toddler lurching
into the scent of an unleashed oven, the slick
of applesauce to mop up, the rice and butter beans
simmering stovetop, the little thing it is to scar
an arm, and the sin it is to burn the cornbread.
Melissa Dickson is a poet and mother of four whose poems can be found in Shenandoah, Cumberland River Review, and Southern Humanities Review.