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Thinking about it now, I’m not the least bit

sorry for the hateful shit I’d said to you

eleventy years ago, when I was a kid

and you fucking knew better.

I rescind my apologies.

Not that my sorries ever meant a good

goddamn to you, anyway—

they were ever only as true as your own,

anyway.

Insincerity: a common factor.

 

No, that’s not true…the truth is complex.

 

I wish I hadn’t apologized so much for defending myself

against you.

And I wish you hadn’t rolled over so easily whenever

I called you out. I wish you’d properly raged against

the reasons you were the way you were. Sure,

you’d spoken of the ghosts that breathed inside of you—

warned me of them—but never did you

exorcise them. Never did you make them scream in terror.

 

Not that your armor went unused. You’d fought your best all your life…

 

I am greater than you had ever hoped to be. I’ve welded your chainmail

to my own, and I am running into battle with your heart sewn into my banner.

Mother mine, I know your truths; yours are mine, and I will defend them,

always.

 

I will make your ghosts and mine scream in terror.

 

© Kindra M. Austin

23

The day was grey-blue, echo of your eyes;

sky filled up with promise of rain,

and we waited for beloved petrichor.

Lemon yellow and speckled black,

a noble friend

clasped

your flaxen strands and flexed its wings.

What dreams did she bring, my darling?

Do you know how often

I dream of the daylight that dances

upon your face?

Formed inside my body, you are

living art,

gusting love from

honest lungs—

you speak your truths.

Honor your heart always, baby girl,

and you’ll always be rewarded with

self-respect.

Live kindly,

and the butterflies

will flock to you,

forever.

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In the kitchen

my mother was dead with no religion;

she’d bumped her head and painted the floor.

 

Dead head red

linoleum

 

Mother were your eyes closed or open?

Only the cat knows

as well as policemen.

 

Bloated bag of bones

drained and taking space in chest of drawers…

you don’t belong there but what can I do?

I’ve never been good at saving you.

 

You wait for the oven that will

fulfill

your wishes.

Don’t fret mother;

your girls won’t toss the dirt on you.

We will wear your body dressed in silver

displayed ‘round our necks.

 

No one can hurt you now.

Not your mother or your father;

not corrupt Jehovah

who’d abandoned you at sixteen years

young.

 

Mama 19 again at 24;

You weren’t perfect but you were ours

and you were beautiful even at your ugliest

because we knew you loved us

so fucking hard it hurt sometimes.

 

You were a glorious lioness.

A fucking alcoholic, but a lioness just the same.

And I’m so angry!

So goddamned sad!

 

My mother is dead. And it doesn’t matter if her eyes were closed or open.

Those eyes I’ll never see again.

Those most beautiful eyes that beheld me the day I was born.

Those eyes I’ve learned to read.

The ones I’ve loved and hated in equal turns—

sometimes green grey or blue

but always true.

The ones made dull when she bumped her head

and painted the floor.

Despite the pain I live with every day, I often do forget that I’m not twenty anymore–until I hand down to my girl some vintage band tees too small for me now. Goodbye Fleetwood Mac tank top, and Rolling Stones long sleeved t-shirt. See you around, Abbey Road with the small hole in the armpit. Rick Springfield, you’re next, dude. And poor Peter Frampton, my beloved…I promise you’ll live on in the hands of Nicole. She’ll treat you right. I just can’t stretch you across my boobs anymore. Okay, so my boobs aren’t the real problem. I’ll be thirty-nine in December, and I’m a good deal heavier everywhere than I was twenty years ago.

Thank you, Fibromyalgia—you really do cramp my style, and by that I mean you’ve made me fat. My bell bottom jeans just don’t fit right anymore, and I wonder who I am when I go out in yoga pants and sweatshirts. You’ve taken my identity and my will to give a fuck. I throw my hair up in Pebbles buns now, and wear my glasses every day. I wear slip on shoes, for fuck’s sake. Granted, my shoes are colorful and cute as fuck, and I rock a messy bun, especially when I’m wearing glasses. I refuse to allow you to take away my good humor. You take away my concentration; sleep; self-esteem; sanity; appetite; motivation; and MY T-SHIRTS, among loads of other things…you can’t have my goddamned humor, too.

I thank the Universe for Nicole. My girl reminds me who I am better than anyone. I had a lovely day with her yesterday, full of laughs and stimulating conversation. So there’s another thing Fibromyalgia and my other health issues cannot take away from me—my daughter, and our beautiful relationship.

I know I’ve posted this song a million times before, but I’m posting it again. This is the song that I would play when Nicole was a baby—when she’d wake up crying in the night. I’d hold against my chest, and dance her back to sleep. My special babe. I’d be nothing good without her.

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Nicole and I are on our way to see Fleetwood Mac in this photo, taken in 2015.

At 3:33 pm, on the third day of October, it is 82 degrees where I live in Michigan. The house is cool inside, too cool, so I’ve opened a window for balance–just one. The sun is a golden god today, and the trees are waving happy branches in the breeze–lots of them have managed to hold onto their spring green color. From where I’m sat at my desk in the living room, looking into the backyard, I might easily be fooled into thinking it was June.

I am peaceful this afternoon, listening to the clacking of keys as my fingers deliver my thoughts. Melvin is asleep in the window just inches away from me, and he keeps making these fat kitty errrmm sounds that melt my heart. I want to pick him up and rock him like the baby he is, but the poor guy hasn’t been feeling well, so it’s best I let him be; the sweet thing, I wonder what he dreams about, all curled up and cozy.

I’m going to prepare a chicken stew with dumplings tonight for dinner. I feel good enough to cook, so I want something special. I only wish Nicole still lived at home so I could feed her, too. Oh, my girl. I miss the smell of her shampoo permeating after her nightly shower. I miss going to bed at night, and seeing the soft light of her bedroom reaching just beyond the edge of the closed door. I miss waking up to the sound of her tea kettle. She and Isaiah have just moved into their first house, about ten miles out of the village. I still see Nicole several times a week, and we text, or speak on the phone every day.

I am peaceful this afternoon, but I really feel like I need a hug.

 

 

 

 

 

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If you’d let me, I’d count your freckles—each kiss print from the sun—I’d connect the dots of constellations tattooed on your alabaster skin—a magic map to be deciphered by the moonlight. You are the cosmos in human form—all-encompassing and beautiful beyond description. When I’m with you, I am energized; positivity radiates from your being, and in your eyes, I see the universe and the purpose for life. You are the solar system I was meant to bring forth, my darling girl—a part of you is an angel singing on high in the dark of outer space. I am blessed to be your mother. I am in awe of you. So sometimes I stare, because to look upon you is to see that some sort of divinity does exist. You are perfection to me, and I love you. I love you endlessly, my daughter, and you will always be the pinnacle of my life.

All my life, mother,

I’ve loved you above myself

even when you’ve loved yourself

more than you’ve loved me in return.

I now know you’ve hated yourself

for making me abandon myself

in hopes you’d love me in return.

You’re sick, my mother;

you’re aware.

But I am strong, and you are proud.

You don’t have to change

because I am

me.

I erase your guilt

because I am strong,

and I can handle you.

Self-hatred comes only in

tolerable intervals.

Tolerable for yourself;

when I’m teaching you lesson

I’m fucking hating myself

because I know I’m making you

fucking miserable, reminding you that you’re

a shit mother–and it’s not even your fault.

Do you know the rage in my heart

kept hot for your mother and father?

How is it that you can forgive them–

have a relationship with these two fucks,

but I cannot stand to even think their names?

I am your offspring, and I love you better than a mother.

I have taken care of you, chased off men better than a father.

I am your daughter, and sometimes I don’t want to be.

But really, who the fuck would I be without you?

I’m grateful for my life with you because

you taught me how to live.

 

I knew for certain I was pregnant three months before my eighteenth birthday; I was a high school senior. I wanted to die. Or at least I wanted her to die, though I couldn’t show up for the abortion my step-mother had arranged. I just couldn’t bring myself to take an active part in the death of a life growing inside me. So, I prayed for a miscarriage; my conscience could rest easy if my body naturally rejected the fetus. Or, I’d hope for an accident. Standing at the top of the stair, any stair, I’d invite a good trip and tumble. But as self-absorbed as people can be–as unaware of their surroundings–they always were aware of me.

Wishing for tragedy was equally sickening, but I could not silence the obsessive thoughts that beat against my eardrums. Until the time came when I first felt my girl kicking and pushing against my womb. Magic. Absolute magic. My little sister was the first to witness this delight.

Nicole moved, and I was in love.

I was in labor for twenty three hours–without an epidural. I was given a magical liquid in my IV drip to help me sleep between contractions. I actually DID sleep. Toward the end, I was legit conking out in sixty second intervals. I can’t recall being so delirious as I was those hours leading up to Nicole’s birth.

I was in a lot of pain; and in duress instigated by Adoption Lady. Adoption Lady had come into my room during the most wicked contractions, and wanted me to sign some paperwork. Jeff had called her after we’d arrived at the hospital, per her request. Jeff had decided during my sixth or so month that he and I were not capable of raising a child, so we met with Adoption Lady at Adoption Place, and made arrangements for a closed adoption. I went into labor a few weeks early, before we’d finalized our case.

My contractions were so fucking severe, I couldn’t hold the pen to sign the finalizing papers. Adoption Lady said, “I’ll come back later.”

I didn’t want to give up my baby.

The pain though, transcended comprehension. I wanted to die. I actually said at one point, ” I want to die.” And my mother said, “Don’t say that!”

I did, for a while during labor wish for death. My contractions were so strong, they were off the charts–literally. How the fucking hell have women managed to survive childbirth for thousands of years?

At eight centimeters dilated, I said, “I have to push.” And my nurse said, “You can’t yet.”

I’ve never been good at following rules. I began pushing before my doctor was even scrubbed and in position. Nicole was born at 5:04 p.m. After twenty three hours, I only pushed for like, five minutes.

When Adoption Lady returned, my attending nurse took the pleasure of telling her she’d be leaving the hospital without my baby. I didn’t give one fuck whether or not Nicole’s dad wanted to be a part of her life. All I knew was that my girl was MY GIRL.

And I haven’t wished for death since.