Archive for mother

Cat Foot

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , on February 23, 2010 by bodhitsattva

I should lay
like a cat,
soaking up
the sun’s energy,
for the buzz
of a mosquito
to open
my triangle eyes
and tempt a swat.

But I am
a biped
who thinks
she has more to accomplish
than a cat,
learning from her lineage
to be a woman
in balance—
a cat on a ledge.

My orange tabby
won’t remember
her Mama.
She has herself,
her right now—
good days
spent on the rug,
in the sun
and the mornings after
street-fight nights
spent underneath the bed
with a bloody tail.

She grooms
although she must be neat
for no one,
using a sandpaper tongue
to keep the wound
from becoming a scar.
Why is it that I,
a biped,
won’t groom
when I’m estranged
from Mother:
the matriarch
who led me
to the ledge,
from my lover:
the man
who drapes me
like silk over our bed.
I sulk
over wounds
long since dried,
peeled and healed,
that scarred
because I wouldn’t stop
scratching at the scab.

I won’t wash;
I won’t treat.
I will lie like prey
succumbing to predator.
I should be so lucky
to suffer
like a cat
who still wants to be clean.

Here You Are Not My Mother

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on December 1, 2009 by bodhitsattva

Mama and I uncover her old photos.
I like how they have a frame:
a thin white border
smaller than a Polaroid’s.

“May I have this one?”
She wants to know why.

Because I can tell
you’re in a hotel room,
squash yellow walls
barely lit behind you.
You’re in a hot pink
halter nightie—A-line,
white stripe empire waist.
Sideways on a rumpled bed,
one arm drapes a pear hip,
the other props you up.
I can tell you tried to stick
your knees together with sweat,
but a white triangle is peeking.
They must have been cotton.
I love your pencil-thin brows,
and your eyes lined black
staring at whoever takes the photo—
the bell hop, a 70s prog rock
drummer, a bad boy biker,
a friendless female hitchhiker
you met at the bar downstairs?

Here you smile without wrinkles.

“You were about my age.”

Mama’s Ruby Ring

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , on October 2, 2009 by bodhitsattva

At 4, I asked Mama as she washed me if
I could have the ruby ring flowering
diamond petals when she died.
Hushed, she scrubbed and said yes.

Could I have the ruby ring flowering
a blood drop, waved in sweet water?
Hushed, she scrubbed and said yes.
The thought of her ring,

a blood drop waved in sweet water:
the moment I became human.
The thought of her ring
is an anchor to

the moment I became human.
Remembering Mama’s mortality
is an anchor to
personal responsibility.

Remembering her mortality
as she scrubbed my breastless chest—her
personal responsibility—
she was surprised by her baby.

As she scrubbed my breastless chest, her
hands became her mother’s;
Mama’s surprised by her baby
when she tells the story.

Her hands became her mother’s:
the palm lines that tell our future.
When Mama tells the story
the patterns of my fingerprints are

the palm lines that tell our future.
If my hands become unfamiliar,
the patterns of my fingerprints are
lost, and the ruby is just a rock.

It Begins with Our Mothers

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , on February 11, 2009 by bodhitsattva

Good girls don’t make scenes; keep your mouth, legs, and eyes shut. Listen, but not too well: men like their women agreeable; nod, like you’re giving a blow job. Don’t sleep around, lose virtue, the sacred gift. The perfect woman has a baby without ever being fucked. So keep your second mouth closed tighter. The only thing it should speak is babies. Did Mama forget the blood of 20 or 30 years? How confused I was to see spots on my panties, like someone snapped a picture. Blinding light circles. Mama caught me using a tampon and said I’d break my hymen. At dinner, proud as a pimp, she told my father and brother: Today my little girl became a woman. They had no congratulations. I sank lower under the fork-to-mouth silence. 

The Last Hetero on Earth

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , on October 6, 2008 by bodhitsattva

My brother didn’t become gay. He was that way before the fight between Mama and Papa, as they were about to separate, when Mama said to my brother through sobbing mouth mucus, “I hope you aren’t like him! If you are, you better figure it out before you get married and ruin some woman’s life.” I was there, but blocked it out. Papa reminded me after my brother came out to us, as he was preparing to tell my mother. “He’s afraid,” Papa said. “You don’t remember her hoping he wasn’t like me?” My brother was seventeen. I was twelve. My brother said, “I’m not, Mommy; I’m not.” It came back to me. I wonder what my brother remembers. He found Papa’s magazines in the office desk at thirteen as he helped at the real estate business after school. We all stuffed envelopes, but my brother kept up the computers. Mama made a big deal about my brother having found the evidence and holding it in since eleven. Little did she know my isolation while doors were locked and yelling seeped through the frames. To them I was too young to know. I was left alone. At twenty-five my brother finally figured it out, after years of leaving coeds in hotel rooms to smoke cigarettes because he couldn’t get it up. That’s when we became friends. When my brother finally told Mama, she was the last to know. She called me, the last hetero on earth. She said, “Every man I have ever known has abandoned me.” That’s where I got that from. Now Christ is the only man in her life. I told her what her marriage showed me: “You have yourself, your mind, your body. No man will make you complete.”

Night Cap

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , on July 5, 2008 by bodhitsattva

Papa drank one scotch a night. Brown liquor on ice cut three fourths with water in a crystal bell cup. A murky lake. Me on his knee, him sneaking me sips at three, five, seven. He ate dinner at nine, after all of us: Mama had done the dishes, her face a crumpled wet rag; Fratello found the lock on his bedroom door and played no music, maybe Nintendo. Papa fed me mushrooms from the Chicken Marsala. Wine and scotch sugar tongue. At eleven I wanted water. I sucked the scotch from the ice cubes, left the liquid. Was I drunk? I never made it to the kitchen for a drink, halted in the hallway between bedroom and living room by the voice of a preacher on TV. “There is a cure.” Mama asked Papa, “Are you still attracted to women?” I slid down the wall and went thirsty.