mother

she’s a damaged little monster
in my prozac arms
she gets smaller every year
her soft little body
shrinking in the unbearable
tenderness of my brutal arms
while her personality grows,
spreads its black wings
and flies at me like a bat
aiming at my eyes
she says
i’ve wasted my life
she says
i deserved those black
and blue marks
my father gave me
when i was a child
i say nothing
waiting for her feathers
to ruffle down
waiting for a laugh
or a silly story
i don’t know why i visit her
i don’t know why i mean it
when i say
i love her
i don’t know who taught her
she could act that way
flapping her mouth
like a myna bird schizzing
jekyll-hyde paranoid defensive
attack beak and claws

maybe i love her
because the soft little monster
inside me wears her name
but i don’t feel
like a cruel featherweight flier
i feel like a wildcat
heavy with the muscle of converted pain
i can wait for hours
for a movement in the bush
a flutter of wings
and when my teeth break flesh
i know what i’m doing
i know the taste of blood
i know i’m responsible

wendy shaffer

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