When I picture my mom, 

I picture her 10 years ago. 

Dark brown hair,

red cheeks. Her eyebrows are grown,

plucked in the middle. 

She smells like Dove and toothpaste in the morning. 

Her legs prickle every day a week but one. 


She is Woman. She is tired and wise.

Green eyes and wine then 

wine no-more. She is 

only lipstick, and lipstick only 

on Family Photo Day in late October.


She is shepherd, herding 8 kids in the

Wal-Mart parking lot.


I learn what it is to be Woman by my Woman. 

I learn to say please and thank-you because

I am told to do so.


I learn how to cope and not get caught.

I learn the brave face, then shame, disgraced

by the blow-up. 

Shame, guilt, unforgiveness, I learn.


In turn, I feel lost: distressed, disturbed;

don’t know how to dress my words;

the world we live on, all of it perfect and horribly wrong.

My mom was beast for a long, long time.


She was tired and fine. 


Shepherd of 8 kids in the Wal-Mart parking lot,

it was fine. No one died but oftentimes 

I felt I lived with nothing calling to tomorrow.

I felt some type of love I needed was missing –

I was hollow. I didn’t understand why 

dishes were more important than my happiness.


I was selfish in a way that made sense, maybe. 


I think my mom understood me more as a baby.


When I learned to speak, she understood me less and less, 

even when I spoke from the narrows of my chest.

It was a mess.

A conglomerate of miscommunications, of

feelings of inadequacy in all different situations, our

time spent needing more time at all times.

Yeah, I got good at acting like I was fine.



Submitted: May 25, 2023

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