My mother hated me

the way I looked at her through my father’s pale eyes

the independent insurgence of a being

where she wanted a porcelain-faced doll

with peachy cheeks and white stark cold skin

who never blinked at her vulnerability

or turned from her naked cruelty

My mother wanted a soft myna bird

to echo back

I love you

I love you

I love you

across that battered orange formica table

as my father’s hand danced under my skirt

My mother hated me

horrified as she was of

dirty things…

human need,

bits of life and grit and greed

the everpresent residue of all our shame

at being caught together, tangled in the brokenness

pinned down to each other

rusty needles baring our misery

My mother hated dirty things…

it would get under her nails

she’d wash




she never could get me out from under those




It turned her stomach

I saw it rolling

over in her eyes

as the brush in her hand

raked violent jerky tumbles

over my knotted auburn


she never really got out those knots of me

all balled up in her throat

I heard her cough against them every night

she just smoothed the

hair on top

the incessant evidence of her ineptitude

at keeping me clean

and neat

and straight

and hers

My mother hated me

I bled

I breathed

I needed

all over her

clean fragility

She never could let herself




that I’d loved her for always


even with the

blood and filth of my virginity

under her dirty nails