poem #43

My mother was in the Comfort Army-
her battle was against fearful men. They
opened her legs like oyster shells to
look for pearls they could never hope to
find there; to dip in the salty brine of
my mother’s aspirations, leaking down
her chin. She sends me sensible shoes
and peanut butter on my birthday so
I can remember that these things are
not always bought with money; although
some men are generous, maybe like
my dad. She tells me that he was the
nicest one, even though she still drank
dong quai after he left so that his child,
her daughter, would never be anything
more than a dream. So I would never learn
how to stare through eyelashes like picket
fences until the shuddering nights when it’s
best to not look, or how to hide bruises
with sliced potatoes. She sold all her dreams
for the key to the bed of a man who was
guilty enough to marry her; so I bought them
back with my diplomas and jelly sandwiches
and the way I whisper in her ear, “Mother,
you birthed pride and I rose up out of terror
with a neck as straight as matriarchs,
your pain was the foundation upon which
I will lift you up; on a dais will I comfort
you with every drop of my love. Come
home, dear soldier, you don’t have to fight
no more.”
 – Pattie Flint
Pattie Flint is the Associate Editor of Medusa’s Laugh Press.
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