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Mothers & Daughters MAG
My mother folds herself into the chair
next to the hospital bed
like a child curls around a scraped knee
frail and heartbroken
Years ago she soothed me from this position.
I’d fallen fast and hard onto brutal cement
Marveling at the way her cool soft lips pressed against my cheek,
wet and blotchy,
gently persuaded by her warm, windy breath
I cautiously uncoiled my tense muscles.
The cut barely broke the skin
barely even hurt
I was not cracked,
and I was free to proceed with being a child.
But now she sits, fixated with my grandmother’s paper-thin hand,
which rests still as stone
on the white, sterilized hospital linen.
My mother closes her eyes, thinking maybe
of her own past scraped knees,
and of the scars that still sting with unavoidable consistency
bruises on her heart, like the soft spots of a peach
and the woman who, so decrepit now,
used to kiss the pain away.
I watch the ceiling, watch the floor, watch anything
that will offer me the coldness of
blank, meaningless objects.
This cut is deeper, out of my realm of pain index
gnawing at the bone, gnawing at reality
like a painter scraping away dried, chipped color.
And I know my mother does not have
to kiss away anyone’s pain,
especially her own.
And all she can do is fold herself into
the silent sturdiness of the chair.