The Grout in My Mother's Kitchen

Often to fill an awkward silence when my mother and I sit in the kitchen,
she will say, “Do you think such-and-such a product will clean this grout?”
The grout is brown, moldy, it looks a bit like pink-eye, it has been that way
for ten years, it’s getting worse, or rather, it’s been visibly gross for nearly five years.
Like a lot of families, in the 80’s we had the kitchen redone, in white, sleek, stream-lined,
ready to appear as a kitchen should appear, unencumbered, safe, sterile, the hub of family

She will say, “I think I will buy that, this summer I will go over the grout.”
It has not happened. The kitchen should really be redone again, styles have changed,
marble is in fashion. We rarely pass through this kitchen anymore,
sometimes though, I picture my mom sitting there, in front of the oven, looking at the clock,
nervously rocking on the stool,
with her eyes wide open and dry hands making a
scratching noise.

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