Things My Mother Always Told Me

1.Inaal Abouk
My mother never knew where she was,
never quite understood what tongue to use. 
Seven languages spilling out of her mouth
like high tides through damaged dams, 
she created a bastard language for her bastard child. 
She always belonged everywhere.
Though I was plucked from her body,
I never belonged anywhere.
She matched her words with her mood 
Channeling nations I’ve only heard of in song;
Israel, France, Haiti, South Africa.
I matched my words with my surroundings
planting my feet deep into the ground 
of whatever land I found myself on.
Flexing my lips and curving my tongue,
my intonation echoing the natives,
Willing myself to have a history.
With her tongue heavy from her past
and mine light with all that’s ahead
our miscommunication was linguistic.

2. Inaal Abouk – curse your father
When she told me what she meant all these years,
I tumbled out of my chair in a fit of laughter.
Sprawled on the carpeted floor of my mothers bedroom,
I let the irony hang in the air between us.
She has never cursed my father,
never spoken ill of the man who chose to
cast an absentee ballot in the life of his only daughter.
Since the absent are always wrong,
my mother was a saint and my father
the serpent responsible for our downfall.
I’ve scribbled in 3 languages all
 in an attempt to find a man I never knew.
Yet the only two words my mother kept
from a language she touched long ago
captured the sinking in my chest.
I no longer felt separate from her
as seven languages danced around my home. 

Forest on Fire

I remember the first time
I realized my mother had a life before me.
She didn’t exist only in memories 
Of  summer night firefly jars 
And airport goodbyes.
When she shared a picture from her past
I began piecing together a woman I didn’t know;
Before Mommy, someone called her
Baby. I wasn’t always the last
To kiss her goodnight.

Her mind was a forest:
Dense, unforgiving, all consuming,
Subject to laws only it understood.
For years I navigated the
Dark terrains of her mind
Tripping over roots, anchored deep
in the soil of her self,
Scraping my knees and 
Breaking my spirit.
When the trees of her spirit began to fall 
Did I listen for a sound?

My mother did not come with a map.
Her mind too often mimicked 
The temperament of Mother Nature;
Only thriving in perfect conditions,
But our conditions were far from perfect
And when I lit the flame of doubt;
When I questioned her devotion to me
I saw the forest burn behind her eyes.