Monday, September 29, 2014

On Feeling Like a Shitty Mother

In 1984 I had just read Adrienne Rich's book "Of Woman Born."  She said that until women start writing the truth about there experience, no matter how painful, no one will know the truth about women.  So I did. 

On Feeling Like a Shitty Mother

Sitting at the kitchen table
my face is on fire

or is it stress?

I can barely write
my writst won’t move

we just took her to the airport
my fourteen year old daughter
she’s been living with her father
for the past nine years

one week just wasn’t enough

I  cried
I never cried before when she left
I tried to hold back the tears
what the fuck, I said
just let them flow

I cried for being such a shitty mother
for leaving her when she was five
for her wanting me to come back
and I never did
for not hearing her sing in the choir
for  not seeing her lead cheers
or play basket ball
for not being there when she came home from school
for not listening to her tell me what’s going on in her life

I cried
and the tears rolled down my face the salt set my skin on fire

What a wreck, I said
what a mess
red circles around puffy eyes
red streaks down each side my nose
and all along my jaw

one week just wasn’t enough

part II

sitting at the kitchen table
my face is on fire

my three year old asks me questions incessantly

what is this?

I keep writing

What is this?

I keep writing
I just don’t want to deal with him right now

What is this?  he asks again

 plunger, for when the toilet gets stopped up

but what is this?

and I snap
I just told you! it is a plunger
enunciating every syllable
wanting to scream

my face is on fire

I’m angry at this father
why is he here?
I want to call him up and demand his appearance
right now!

And when father finally arrives
son wants to play with him constantly
and I want to talk to father
and son and I fight for father’s attention
and father leaves

what’s the use?
of anything?

It’s a gray day
the kitchen’s a mess
as usual

my face is on fire

I have to talk to the IRS tomorrow
I am a delinquent taxpayer
and my bank account is overdrawn

I can’t pay you as much as I said I would
I told the woman on the phone

You mean you defaulted? She asks.

Well, yes, I guess so I answered
thinking how criminal that sounded
been spending too much time
worrying about who my husband was fucking
instead of tending to business
I wanted to tell her

But what did she care

We’re back to the old routine now
he’s not fucking her anymore
I gave him an ultimatum

It’s either her or me
I’m not risking any disease

Part III

mommie,  I’m hungry

I keep writing

mommie, I’m hungry

I keep writing

And he starts tugging at my arm
mommie I’m hungry

and I snap again
alright! What do you want?

a banana

more tears
and the salt burns
my face is on fire

and I cried again
for being such a shitty mother
© 1984

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