Mother, you named yourself Ice,
For on judgement day you will be told
That you were not compassionate.
And no matter how much my father’s flame
Tried to melt you
The shards that flew from your sharp tongue
Embedded themselves in my warm skin.
I never called myself a pessimist until I was alone with you.
Mother, you named yourself Glass.
A stained glass window in a cathedral
But glass is violent when broken
Weaponized, cutting wounds so shallow that you don’t notice them until it’s too late.
I watched you hate yourself behind
A closed bathroom door and learned how to hate myself too.
I know how to use mirrors
To declare war upon my body.
I know how to enjoy the feeling
Of an empty stomach.
Mother, you named yourself Lioness,
Taking pride in the claws that you sunk into my father
And your roars that would leave me paralyzed.
Hands over ears, unable to move.
You and I share the same pelt,
But I wish that I could skin it away.
Mother, you named yourself Hate
Sociopathic, detached from emotion
Unable to care about what burst from your lips
And against my sister who always ducked
But truly, your projectiles never missed.
They would ricochet through the walls
Striking everything in sight.
Mother, you named yourself Fear
And when I’m alone at night
I wonder, Mother,
How do I keep myself from becoming you?
I want to be perfect for you
The way that nothing, nobody ever has been before.
But nobody has ever tried hard enough before.
As hard as I did, I do,
I will strip my body of the things it needs
To understand you. To fight for you
To make my accidental life worth the time I spent
trying to please you.
You were once my greatest adversary
But I can’t seem to love anybody nearly as much.
Mama, I named you Warmth
Because you so desperately tried to grasp it
For dad, for me, for Spencer and Sydney..
But when your words fade, you are lonely,
And sometimes mental illness only lets you try your best.
Trust me, now I know.
It took me a long time to realize
That you are the embodiment of resilience.
Some would call your fire destructive and reckless
But I know that it is fearless.
Mama, I named you Teacher.
The first woman in your family to go to college.
And the first person to tell me
That my messy mind is a superpower, not a weakness.
You gave me the gift of words,
Helped me bend my scattered thoughts
Into something powerful, magical,
Finally something mine and only mine to control.
This language is mine.
You took my stuttering tongue and made it sharp
I didn’t know it then, but that was your love.
Mama, I named you Strength,
For born upon your womb were three children
Raised by you, fearsome and whole.
Your mind is indomitable
With an intensity that shaped us to
Fight and let passion overtake our senses
Turn our inherited sickness into a weapon.
Tell your daughters that we are women who will not
Allow our lives to be shaped by the hands of men.
Mama, mother, matriarch, my maker, muse,
Master of malediction and magic
Your music is madness, Mozart’s madrigals, Magnificat
Medusa, matrilineal Madonna, mind of Minerva,
Marvel at your mending miracles mighty Messiah,
You’re messy and maybe as a Mother you made mistakes,
Mama, you make mistakes.
But Mom, I name you