385: American Mother

385: American Mother

385: American Mother

American Mother
by Pamela Hart

There was the time I told your cradle I was done
Locked you in the van then shopped at Walgreens
I didn’t feed you vegetables
I let the car slide into the lake, watched you drown and blamed Medea
I held each of you one by one under the porcelain water
Dozed as a man who wasn’t your father broke your arm
I slapped your faces when your grades failed
When you were arrested I denied you were mine
I confess to being the mother of all bombs
Sometimes I disdained you
I confess I am not good
Sometimes the sound of the hawk
Chasing after the crow was the only thing I cared about
But I learned the word fontanel
Buried my face in the soft spot and oh the smell
The world of your skin the first morning after the night of your birth
Even the landscape of the heel of your day-old foot
The day gone to sleep and breast—your mouth opening
Then closing as if to tell me the story of what you saw—light
Glinting off a window and into your face—my
Large face like the ocean you would later swim in
Even as I love you and hold all of you
My children I’m the good mother the bad mother
The one who makes you
Then bombs your world to bits

"American Mother," by Pamela Hart, from MOTHERS OVER NANGARHAR by Pamela Hart, copyright © 2017 Sarabande Books. Used by permission of Sarabande Books.