It now sits waiting on a shelf.
It has journeyed farther than I ever will
Its brass body has been touched
by the wealth of women who came before me.
A vessel for unguents and spices,
to heal, to cure, to enhance the richness
of their cooking pots and lives.

Brought from my grandmother’s mothers,
brought from some western Asian region,
it traveled across mountains and deserts
in a woven cloth sack across the back of a camel.
The teenaged bride dressed in finery and fear,
led from home by a man she didn’t know.
She sat swaying towards an unknown future
familiar only with her dowry; a weaving loom,
the mortar and pestle, the pots and candlesticks
that clanged a counterpoint to the caravan bells.

I have always had a connection to it.
I knew that when I touched it, it touched me.
I wear the skin of generations.
The hands who used it put their hands on top of mine.
Their spectral clasp says this is all we have,
this is what’s left, don’t lose us now.
It will pass forward, with this poem
to remind the ensuing inheritors of who we were,
where we traveled, and who they are.
The next hands will hold my hands as well.