Bowls Red and Black
by Mikki Aronoff


I reach high in the cupboard for one of mother’s lacquered bowls, keepsakes from a trip to Japan in the 50s. She returned to cultivate a quiet more peaceful than sullen, impatient for me to leave home — then quickly hosted a student from Kyoto. Gone her gangly pimpled rebel. Ensconced — in my room! — a whisper of a girl who taught her to live a pristine aesthetic.

Mother, now Japanese, newly sourced by an eastern sun. She rose to kanji practice, worshipping cryptic lines, hacked and tweezed confined tree roots in shallow containers, minced scallions faster than Julia Child. Her cherished bowls tucked away from my awkward teenage hands and tastes.

Only for rice!

I would have filled them with hot fudge sundaes.

So American…


Timeless cracks
plume on the shelf,

flaws etch into elegance.
My knobby fingers stretch

for my choice,
alive with Wabi-Sabi.

I struggle to recall
what it was about her

I need so often
to forget.

Bowls stacked red black
red black click, teeter.

It falls —
my bowl.

Mom —

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Bowls stacked red and black.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It never fails. Every time I reach for one of mother’s bowls, now antique, I find myself falling into my own history.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mikki Aronoff, a member of the New Mexico State Poetry Society, has poems in House of Cards: Ekphrastic Poetry, Rolling Sixes Sestinas: an Anthology of Albuquerque Poets, Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing, Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems, The Lake, 3ElementsReview, in the Love & Ensuing Madness Collection of Rat’s Ass Review, and upcoming in Legends & Monsters. Now retired, she finds herself dancing with words and pictures.