I am up way too late tonight. Despite the stars, the absent moon, the warmth of a day spent quiet with my love, I can not sleep. I lost a son today. I sent him away. Recover. Take control. Stop drinking. Or do nothing. Change not at all, but leave my home. I can love you from a distance.
I do love you.
I ache for you.
My home, with you in it, is not quiet, or safe. You are, after all, my son.
You don’t belong here. That bottle of Tequila tucked coolly in your back pocket as you head for the door makes me hate you. I hate that.
You utter, “Goodbye, Bitch,” as you leave. I hate that too.
Try as I might, you are not the victim of my cold rage and impotent anger.
I nursed you. I coddled you. I brought you furry stuffed animals in rainbow colors, Nietzsche, strong arms in a storm.
YOU are beautiful. Your mirror is covered black in hangovers, failed relationships, and inadequacy—though you are only in your twenties and cannot see the veil for what it is.
When your teddy went missing, I hunted across states—inadequately – for a replacement. When your teddy was found, winter weathered and thread bare, I bought replica animals for their colors and fur. I made your teddy a new skin.
If you asked, I believe my milk would flow. My heart would stutter. My world would stop.
Dry, full, and sagging, my teats bear the brunt of your rejection. I am not whole. I am mother rendered automaton. Lover rendered whore. You were, you are, my world. Too beautiful, too smart, too talented, your self-loathing is a crease of wrinkled agony on the fabric of my soul.
Do you not see yourself through my eyes? Do you not know the power of your languid smile, your too-perfect hips, and the magic of your shining, earth brown eyes? YOU COULD CHANGE THE WORLD. I remember me at your age. I remember what it would have felt like to have been loved so completely. What I could have accomplished then!
But, like me at your age, you do not know you are loved. You are too busy hating. You deny creative process. You would rather destroy.
My introspection snags the span of your attention. It is much more fun at the lake, in front of the TV, or in the arms of a girl whose name you do not have to remember.
I am pedantic. Didactic. Old in middle age with a flabby belly and wrinkles no foundation can hide. My attempts at vigor, beauty, and composure are pathetic. As is my quiet voice, resolute and firm in its conviction, validated by those trained in the ever absconding plentitude of sanity, when it echoes out into the void. Do YOU listen?
What now, at ungodly hours, does motherhood mean?
What does right have to do with beauty? Can letting you fall help you to soar?
Since when are fear and loneliness bested by reason? At dawn I hear the flapping of your wings. At dawn I hear the gunshot and the dogs.
Will you go down? Bridge earthly tenure with suicide by compliancy? Wing-clipped, overly-tracked bird of a dying era, I love you. Fly again. Fly high. Sober. With the wind at your back and the sun in your eyes, feel the current. This is life. Nothing else. Nothing more. Ebb. Flow. Rise. Fall. Your brothers, in spite of what they hold in themselves, in spite of their spark and life, wish they had what you do. Wish they could hurt you, hold you down, say – as they head for the door one last time – “Goodbye, Bitch.”
Let me go. Let the sagging weight of breasts appreciated but not understood be the weight of progeny. Of hope. Clip my wings. Hate me some. Call me seldom. Be, finally, free. In the current. In the wind. Fly baby bird. Fly.
Once, when I was younger than you, I took something that made sex dull and my boyfriend boring. The drug enticed me to walk barefoot toward the sun rising on the Atlantic, sore jaw and all. In the early morning light, rainbow lit sand reefs and eddying water, I came upon a tidal pool, brilliantly lit in salmon colors. I smoked a cigarette. I clenched and unclenched my aching jaw. I moved closer.
In the pool, there were two stingrays. Black, fluid, and too big for the space they occupied while dawn rose pale on a horizon that didn’t care, they fought each other. For space. For air. For the right to be alive as themselves. The rising sun, the incessant heat, the tidal flow – ebb, swell, ebb, swell — meant nothing. They were all about fighting. But here’s the sickness, the sadness, the sheer waste: Both, regardless of the outcome of their seemingly noble battle were already dead. Two hours at most and they would shrivel, shrink, and flail. At the end, their posturing was their demise.
On the shore, at a reasonable distance, with drug sore jaw and fear in my belly, I watched the struggle and the stings. The fight was incongruous, irrelevant, a show. The death, though neither knew it, was in the stagnation, in the lack of flow.