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A Mother's Tongue

"Like a mother's love, a mother's words are power, strength and hope."
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Published 7 years ago
"We won't let them call it a break down this time," 
She says, 
Wiping imagined stray hairs from my brow. 
I want to laugh. 
I want to cry. 
I want to scream. 
Medication is bliss. 
I wonder their names. 
I cannot control my lips, 
Let alone form words. 
So, mother you have won.

What am I without my words? 
My life's time consists of responses, 
Under breath and at the top of my lungs, 
To you. 
I fight for the “I” of each sentence, 
Even when I know it falls on deaf ears. 
I put miles and years between us. 
I am not my mother. 
I am not you. 
You choose in fear, 
You cry in silence, 
Always smiling 
And in a house too clean.

What shall you let them call it now? 
I am the reluctant, 
Prodigal daughter, 
Having returned broken. 
And yes, 
This is so far down 
Not even you can lift me up. 
I disappoint 
Once more. 
All you can think to do is comb my hair, 
Wipe at my drool. 
What do you do with the cow 
That has escaped the barn?

"You will be just fine," 
She says in my ear, 
Because they must not hear. 
"We will just say you were in crises. 
You are on holiday. 
You are too smart for this world, 
Too sensitive. 
I know... 
I felt the angels whispering in your ears 
When you were still inside of me. 
I watched you crawl, 
To stand, 
To walk. 
You are my beautiful gifted baby girl. 
I won't let them have you. 
We will just have to be stronger this time. 
You come from a long line of strong women. 
We survive. 
You survive."

Tears roll down my cheeks, 
Hers and mine. 
I will get stronger 
This time, 
I know. 
Why can't I remember these words 
When I need them most, 
And not her others? 
But, she is here to remind me 
Of me 
--Like no other. 
I remember now 
Who led me to language, 
Who taught me how to scream. 
I am always my mother's child. 
Her hope.

She wipes my brow, 
She touches the corner of my lips, 
Smoothes out the wildness of my hair, 
Dries my cheeks. 
I rest as only I can, with her. 
I hate her, 
I hate me, 
I love her, 
I love me, 
I need her, 
With equal intensity. 
"I know," she says, 
As I rest 
And feed off her strength.

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