The mother finds her own wild, lost beginnings deep within the body of her daughter

after Jacqueline Rose / after Chen Chen

she fed me
clothed me
kept me
safe albeit
in excess
five layers
in spite of
subtropical
winter heat
so much to
eat I needed
digestive pills
to ward off
the stomach’s
sharp protest
how not to
utter the un-
grateful thing:
that I am
irrevocably
her object
that the
poet who
wrote this
saved my life:
Sometimes,
parents &
children
become
the most
common of
strangers
Eventually,
a street
appears
where they
can meet
again
How I
wished
that street
would appear
I kept trying
to make her
proud of my
acumen for
language
these words
have not
been for
nothing
I wrote
to find
the street
where we
might meet
again & now
there is relief
guilt or blame
but they are
nearly always
misplaced
you are born
into the slip-
stream of
your mother’s
unconscious
if someone
had told her
that the last
thing a young
mother needs
is false decency
courage & cheer
she might not
have hurt us
both but what
to do with
remorse &
love that comes
unbidden like a
generous rain
how to accept
her care after
the storm is there
a point at which
the mother is
redeemed the
child forgiven
can the origin
story be re-told
transfigured into
the version where
the garden is always
paradise & no one
need ever fall
out of grace

 

Mary Jean Chan

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