Maternality

"Every day is take your knife to work day.... "
~ Lo Kwa Mei-en

What prior thing makes
a mother? Silver dragées
filled with hormones,
the womb's cross-section
pearled with ruby-colored
seeds? The flint table
that used to be a heart
before soft bodies lay on it,
unaware of the coming sacrifice?
Today I found a box that held
a colony of olive beads, shorn
from my father's rosary.
Ten of them used to make
a mystery. I learned to ply
the in-between with needle
and thread, cut the excess
between my teeth until
my tongue bled. Don't praise:
I don't maintain a clean kingdom—
it's full of upsets, the daily
untidy labor piled on by birds
as they fly by, unmindful
of who suffers their shit.
From that height they're only
abstraction, line drawings
on UNESCO cards that sell
at 75% off after the New Year.
That is, I won't just be
a soft feathered breast,
a milky eye, a cooing.
I admit: times I'd like
to surrender this equipment,
retire into some sanctuary
that others freely enter
and exit without minding
the pass of time, or whose
voices are crying out
at the end of the line.
But what seeming
impossibility–this
being the stronger knife
against which I test
mine every day.



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