The Noodle Factory

While kneading

purple playdough

On my kitchen floor


I attempt to shape

My ugly purple blob


Willing it to look like  

Grandmother’s beautiful

thin noodles


Grandma smiles and laughs

When I show her my creation.


She engulfs them with her hands

And begins to mold them.

I’m intrigued by her old crinkled hands

I absorb their misshapen monstrosity

And bask in their gnarled features.


Why are your veins so purple?


It’s because I used to smoke.


But Dad smokes and his hands don’t look like that.


Nobody smokes like I used to smoke.


How did you used to smoke?


I smoked three packs every day:

One before work

Two after.




I continue my keading

But this time around

The dough seems a little bit thicker

A little bit heavier.


Why are you so good at this?


Her noodles are perfect

each one that emerges from her hands

is thinner


Than the one before.


I used to work in a noodle factory,

All we did was kneed dough.


You did?




Is that why your fingers are always bent?

Is that why you can’t flex them?




I look at my grandma with solemn eyes.

She smiles back

Her deep wrinkles framing her

Small graceful face


It’s okay. She says.

She looks at peace


I turn around to get more playdough

When I face her again


I see a tired young woman

Hands white with flour

Back hunched over a mountain of dough

Anxious to fulfill the day’s quota


Wishing more than anything in the world

For the end of the day

And a long, slow drag

On a cigarette.

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