On the Slight Cruelty of Motherslisten to this poem
Just look at these hands, holding my small palms in hers. They have never had to work. A day in their life! She spit into one, shut the other over, rubbed them together, and with her hands on my wrists made me comb my hair in place. You want to be a handsome boy.
I brought her a pink rose, but in one pull she stripped off all the petals, and made me hold out my hands palm-side down. I thought she might strike them. Instead, she licked one petal after another, placing them on my fingernails. I could do this all day when I was a girl.
And when I watered her roses, she snuck up behind me, slipped a stem between her middle and ring finger, like a wineglass, stroking with her thumb the near-open bud, then simply: wouldn’t you like to have a dress as wonderful as a rose petal? Well, not you, digging her thumbnail into the flesh But that would be something.
Spinelisten to this poem
—After Frida K’s “The Broken Column”
My backbone is my stem,
my head the bud, brain-pink
layered petals, a whirlpool’s rictus
tugs the sepal skull to bloom-
break, bedazzle, bumble my innards
outward. A god flower girl said:
if a flower opens, it means I want you
to try to slam me shut—good luck!