Mother of Five

I’d like to say I killed her, but she is alive inside me much as I’ve tried to drive her away. I would be talking metaphorically, of course, about the myth of motherhood, the kind that can kill you with love, the kind that can get you killed if you don’t live up to it. We do love our notions of mother though: the hateful one, the smothering one, the one who no girl or boyfriend is ever good enough for, the one who bled into the night to bear you into being, the one who gave up her career as a painter to raise you, the one who would throw her body off a train to save you, the one who kisses you even when you stink so bad you embarrass yourself, the one who, oh, you know who and what I mean; you are one; you’ve had one. I want to kill her, but I can’t; she still has so much to teach me. In those nights when I think I know it all, give advice about teenagers to the neighbor or calmly calm the distraught new mom at the community pool, I feel the small bones of my back lining up like vertebrae ought to, the line of juice from my core to the earth’s core merge, and still, when I’m done, when I walk away and back to my own five with their various life’s courses, my nails dig into the soft tissue of my palms that no amount of yard work has ever been able to callous, and I look around for some damned wood to knock on, and all I can ever find is bone, bare and bleached, disconnected from the others it once belonged with.

Laura McCullough | Mudlark No. 32
Contents | The Family That Walks on All Fours