My Italian Mother and I Cook Sauce Together As She Asks Why She Can’t Bring Her Homophobic Love Interest Over My House

She takes pork neck marbled with fat,
yellow onions, and Italian sausage
and plunges them into a large pot.
She sautés them at the bottom
until browned. I purée the tomatoes
until they look like bloody guts
and I spill them into the pot. She stirs
until the sauce splashes and falls
in between the black stove
top grates. It sizzles as it touches
the fire. At the counter top, my fingers
knead the breadcrumbs as I listen
to the sauce boil. The lid rocks
on the rim. For the first time,
I don’t hum the opening melody
to my favorite show while I pat
slices of eggplant. Clumps of
breadcrumbs and egg wash form
underneath my fingernails as she
clutches my shoulder & tells me:
One day you’ll cherish these memories.