Mother

She lies in a blue room with her back to the door and to the light sighing in through the open sliver. She’s trying to catch sleep but her limbs are creaking, her ribcage quivers and her oceans pool, sloshing and hushing against her beating heart. She stitched herself together with a thin thread. Her seams ache.

Did you hear about the girl’s father? (What’s a father?) Didn’t she used to live in this town? She’s living alone? Nobody to help her raise?

She hears the shower of her daughter’s footsteps and the creak of the door and the sigh of the light spilling in when it’s opened. She shuts her eyes and feels the shy bounce of knees hitting the mattress one by one. The grasping of the sheet, the tugging, the heaving up of the small body. The cautious navigation over Mother’s legs and the big eyes wide open in the dark, pouring onto her face.  Staring at her, murmuring something in childspeak. A hot hand on Mother’s cheek settles the billowing sea storms in her.

Love’s body shuffles down beside her until they’re nose to nose. When she opens her eyes, calm teeters through the shadows like a tightrope walker in the space between them.

Those things bang their hands and their heads against the side of the house. Jeering and coaxing. Quite a racket.

Too young to be a Mother. Too young. Unmarried. Shame to raise another.  With Daddy issues. Daughter. Girl Needs. Father. Too young to raise. Alone. Lonely. Woman alone. What? Need Men. Need a man. Girl needs a family. Out of wedlock. Bastard child. No family without a head.  Headless. Flighty Woman. No woman breadwinner. Alone? Lonely. Half. Empty. Not enough? Father’s Day card. Shame to raise another. What? Needs a father. Unmarried. A shame. A child. A girl child. A little girl child. Half of. What? A father? Needs. Men’s Needs. Cater to. Sex with.  Wedlock. She’ll be older with issues. Unmarried issues. Shame to raise another desperate. White dress. She’ll be a slut. Need a man. What? Half empty girl. Need men. A man. Bastard child. Lonely. Too young—

“Mother I don’t feel safe”.

So, she pops open her chest, one stitch at a time, like a seamstress does with a dress that needs resizing. She peels her torso in two and shuffles some organs around. Then she tucks the child inside, and her daughter kisses her bones

and they wait.

 

Painting by Tarsila do Amaral, “An Angler”, 1925

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