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My mother's pain


by FM Le


We are our mothers. I am my mother.
I thought I understood your pain before. I did not.
I am not just holding the fringes. Mother,
I have your pain wrapped around my neck.
It is mine.

I understand, momma, I get it. Love cannot be
described in words that you make up yourself, like
trying to describe every ocean in the world with
a handful of words that should only be used
to describe one shitty pond.

Possession owns the gateway leading to the trap
of his hands and the heart of a woman, my heart,
is the prison. I know, mom, I have spent years wading
through my flesh and the flesh of others. How many times
have I confused the flesh of man for the flesh
of his heart, I can't count.

When I was trying to make up my words, I saw
my reflection and saw my mother with the torment
over her head, reminding me of the definition
of a filthy woman being teased with the possibilities
of redemption and being clean again. We were
never born clean, mother. Faulty humans who
lie and steal out of desperation that life might
mean something beyond the fight against
being dragged again and again.

What's coming up for me, mom? Children that I leave
because I don't want to expose them to the terrible
person I might become when my heart decides that
it will explode if I can't run, the quiet slip into
domestication where I become fused with cleaning
products and a mop. I know you don't know.
You knew what I know, nothing about how
to save yourself. Everyone else goes first,
Mother, we are too kind for escape plans.
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