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Tuesday, June 28, 2022


by Mary Specker Stone

Whenever I make chilli, I use what I find in the refrigerator,
today, two serrano chilis, thirty or so little tomatillos 

from the garden, and some grass-fed beef that’s too tough
for any other purpose than slow-cooking in a chili. Slicing

the serranos lengthwise with my largest chef’s knife, 
I scrape out the tiny seeds and pulp with my index fingernail,

chop them small, not to a mince, but who knows where the line is?
Boiling water loosens the tomatillos’ papery wrappers to allow

me to peel them, cut them in half. My fingers, not yet burning 
as I chop an onion, press a few small garlic cloves, cut open 

the package of ground beef, add all these ingredients 
to the sauté pan. Roe v Wade has been overturned. Liberty,

as in, history of. Herstory, the proper term, the one we used at
the feminist clinic. Yes, I’m thinking about the right to abortion 

as I cook this meal, and my fingers begin to burn. More burning 
as I wash the dishes. The more water, the more burn. That’s how 

capsaicin infuses the flesh. I might have worn gloves to handle
the serranos, but I didn’t protect my fingers with latex, I wanted 

to feel the chilis’ crisp greenness, so I used my bare hands, 
and now, an hour later, I can barely grip the pen for the burning.

Mary Specker Stone’s work has been published in The Gyroscope Review, The Healing Art of Writing, vol. 1, Paradise Review, and Gila River Review. Mary lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she works as a spiritual director and facilitates a monthly poetry salon.