Maternal Villanelle, with a line from Eliot Khalil Wilson

“I fear the natural
aptness I have
to any cross.” ~ D. Bonta

Beauty is the way we are broken
what price to pay, to leap over obstacle
after obstacle, bringing proof of our devotion:

for isn’t that what’s required, especially of mothers?
We waited outside schoolroom doors, exchanging notes
on every beauty that would be the way we were broken.

They said it would be harder for those who didn’t
really want to compete. Soccer? Ballet? Spelling bee?
Every triumph and trial, supposed proof of our devotion.

I wasn’t the type who wore suits or pantyhose and chokers,
or knew my place, or did not complain. Though I was made
to understand beauty was the only way we were broken.

But there were other sources of breaking: they hurt
because their lights burned brighter, out in the world
beyond the merely domestic, where sacrifice was devotion.

To this day I ask myself if there were choices
that could have made some things easier;
but we love beauty and beauty is the way we’re broken
—this is how we’ve proven our devotion.


In response to Via Negativa: Kenosis.

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