The legacy under which we labour, 
co-dependent with the world.
Time and work, inflected by gender,
though in this language, only pronouns
in the third person. I being I.

The one about making soup. Tell that one.
Your friend was sick? 
Use all the verbs.
Then tell what happened to the friend.

The onions, the carrots, the active voice.
The motion of the knife, as you chop and slice.
It sings, ‘I cannot build again a life. 
This one is mine and is the one I chose.’
The cutting board is old, its wood 
grown thin with use.

You add the things you know she likes. 
Wild rice to tempt a waning appetite. Basil,
gently bruised between fingers. And salt.
Salt for cleanliness and health,
for keeping the green in the beans.
It gets stirred in over time, you know, over 
generations that smooth the skin of the hands.
My daughter’s are pale as milk,
though onions still make her cry.

With strong sentences, stir. 
Cover and wait.
Your kitchen is warm with simmering. 
What did you do with that hour? That time,
no census ever counted.

Oh the lies we tell ourselves when we are trying 
to be quiet. They don’t matter now.
What matters is sweet basil. Spoons, and salt,
and stools where we wait. They also serve.

On second thought, don’t say today 
what happened to the friend. 
Her particular journey toward  
or away from health is a separate story, 
and perhaps not yours to tell.

Yvette LeClair

Yvette LeClair is a workers’ rights activist, a compulsive note-taker, and an emerging writer. She grew up reading a lot in the suburbs of Ontario. Her work is published or forthcoming in Pinhole Poetry and Queen’s Quarterly. She has a day job in Toronto, Canada, where she lives with her husband and two calico cats.