Fast and jiggling with anxious
images, my profiles
are always blurred
Picasso, the hand goes --
And the member
No where, suddenly I
wake up and feel weight press into me,
Why are purple bruises cased around my
Breasts, oh it’s so beautiful,
They say to Picasso
why do they think
the purple splotches are
they look like
My eyelids slowly
make friends with the paintedghosts inside
of them, interior beliefs
painted strokes in private
corners, he laughed
when I said--
No, not there, he muses my absence.
the canvas is larger, more
a puppet twisted in knots
I hate what I write.
looking at my
The crowd loves it
while a cracked
smile smears his canvas.
An artist adored,
a figure lost in the abstractions.
Though he sets down his palette,
my words refuse
to be erased
as easily as
I told my mother
what has happened to meand I couldn’t bear to watch the way her face changed
afraid that I was less than what she’d wished her daughter
That these things wouldn’t have to
be the passages of our lives.
that we could read about them in books,
the book she is already reading, and feel sad and angry for someone else.
That this wouldn’t pull on us
every time we catch each other
wrestling with somewhere else,
I hope that she will see, that she can feel
the light, in all colors that burns
the light that burns away
and torn and
that burns inside
our unbreakable bones
that burns for us
the electricity that breaks and spreadsinto the darkest part of the night
that lights the whole of the skyand our bodies glow and spark
as we carry them, as they carry us home
**names have been changed
A short introduction to the man who gave me life--he beat up my mom. I was conceived on the floor of an apartment in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood on New Year’s Eve, 1993. He verbally gave up his rights to me. He is the first generation of a Jamaican immigrant family. He tags me in photos of his children on Instagram and it makes me uncomfortable.
A short introduction to the woman who gave me life-- she gives me my Italian and Jewish pride. Latkes, blintzes, Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce, lasagna made with béchamel rather than ricotta cheese. She majored in English as an undergraduate, and got her Masters in Literature from the University of Colorado. She’s passionate about Black and Jewish cultural studies. Our house is lined with books.
My mother is my hearth.
I see a black turtleneck being the only item of clothing she wears for days. It’s impossible for me to picture my mother hurt. I cannot picture her beat up. I close my eyes and attempt to envision her eyes, arms covered with abstractly shaped, eggplant colored bruises. Her thighs ache because Wes broke so many blood vessels in her legs that the bruises felt like broken bones. She loves big sunglasses, so I picture a giant tortoise shell pair shielding the yellowing marks by her eyes. I go to the most dramatic, and cliché images I have of physical violence. I recreate a scene in which a doctor pleads with her “to leave out the backdoor…we’ll get you to a shelter, and a safe place.” He begs her not to return to Wes, who is sitting in the waiting room nervously wringing his sweaty hands and tapping his feet against the linoleum. Hands that had curled into a fist the night before to blacken her eyes and feet that had made her cower. Yet even with all I now know, I truly cannot conjure these imaginations in my head. They’re blurry, and disjointed.
Instead, when I close my eyes, I can see my mother as I did when I was 4 or 5. It is always the first thing that comes to mind. I sit on my pink princess chair in her bathroom and watch her get ready in a warm, yellowy light. She wears all black, mostly. It is her favorite color. Her legs are long for her frame with slender thighs and strong, muscled calves. She takes pride in her thigh gap and worries over varicose veins. Her stomach is flat, marked only by a tiny cesarean scar. Her chest is covered in moles, and freckles of various colors-remnants of sunbaked days. When she puts me to bed, I stroke the skin on her chest, a thousand beauty marks, and wish that I had some of my own. Her broad shoulders suggest strength and her breasts are small, and perky. One shoulder is stamped with a tiger tattoo. The result of a bored night in Poughkeepsie with her best friend Diana. Her neck is aquiline and delicate. Her face. My mom’s face. It is the most familiar sight in the world. It’s shaped like a square- sturdy and distinct. Extremely high cheekbones make her further striking. Her perfectly shaped nose hovers over full lips. Her hair’s texture is soft yet it never falls quite flat. It’s always changing colors. I am thrilled with how pretty she is. She seems ephemeral to me. Her bathroom is her vanity station. The different sized bottles of perfumes, which she’ll sometimes spray on me. “Just a little. Wrist and neck.” She wears almost no makeup, but the few wands of mascara along with a loose powder that she’s had since the late 80s most likely, still thrills me. Her dangly earrings, and bottles of lotions burst with scents of cocoa, lavender, and vanilla. I find her to be so beautiful.
I open my eyes. I close my eyes.
She is physically impenetrable. She is the most beautiful person I know. A man's violence does not taint her body. It is solely her own.