I have a simple question to ask first to my mother,
when you look up at the stars, what do you see?
Do you think of yourself?
Just as I think of myself?
Mother earth, evermoving, transcendent, her eyes an overhead railway that speed into eternity.
A large thing stretching across her chest,
crossing plains of her creation.
Strikes past constellations of hope, burns with a protective understanding humanity could never have grasped.
Tranquil onlookers gaze up at her center,
thinking of songs that explain her mystery.
A cow once lucky enough to jump over her heart,
in all her milky white glory.
The man and the moon is a falsehood, however.
Powerful women know better than to play home to astronaut types.
Strike your flag where you stand I say, stay there.
But, I know you see things from my point of view anyhow.
When I was little, I ran with bare feet, collapsing into mud and rooting myself there,
you told me not to tie myself down.
However, you are not the earth or the night sky,
you’ve always been swallowed up by raging oceans, dead center under a terrible eye.
Tossed and dragged through sand and shingles and fluorescent yellow beach pails,
teeth gritted hard, hard enough to filter grain and shell, and you tell me “tomorrow is a new day.”
There’s always a new day,
every day is another new day.
But every day it’s not your fault, and every day that passed was never your fault.
Every day you question why you had a daughter, then later a baby boy,
with a man who brought you dead flowers on the first date and proceeded to cut fresh and fine crystals to pay for your dinner ten minutes later.
It’s not your fault.
For one, when you were my age you got an unexpected pregnancy,
you did not believe in abortion, you did believe that a baby could change a man to be fatherly, empathetic, of good intention.
You didn’t know his intention was to guide you under this lure all along.
As tides pass, so do the shore lines.
My father’s shore line just got thinner and thinner as he tried to live a normal, happy family life.
It eats away at him and I watch him becoming unrecognizable, like a cod head left to dry.
You are anchored to his anger, his hatred, all that I learned to steer and flee from.
Still that burning swells in your heart and mine with all the things we cannot understand,
will never understand.
I don’t understand what people want from me.
I will get back to the seed never sown, but for now I have to talk to a boy-
To a boy I knew for three weeks, a couple semesters ago:
You never talked to me until the end of the semester, even though we shared a sound design class and you talked to a lot of people.
I find it so strange.
You tried to plan out a date of some sort,
we were in a new street downtown that I didn’t recognize, kind of away from crowds.
I took a video of your shoes kicked up on the firepit, I told you I liked war movies.
I was hoping this would grab your attention in some way, maybe make me seem in with the guys, not like “all the other girls”.
It’s times like this I feel like I’m a shitty feminist.
You would never see me as something more than a doll posable for your long and pointless experimental films, after all how many actresses do you know that are plus sized.
I’ve never wanted to be an actress.
I wanted to talk about Apocalypse now, but you insisted Full Metal Jacket was the best war movie of all time.
“Why is it the best of all time?”
You had no reasons, you just knew, I got the feeling that you felt you always knew best.
Just an intuition, like the intuition every woman gets standing 10 feet away from a rapist.
In response to the way you fucked me up for 6 months of my life, I read you this:
“Trevor the hunter. Trevor the carnivore, the redneck, not
a pansy, shotgunner, sharpshooter, not fruit or fairy. Trevor the meateater but not
veal. Never veal. Fuck that, never again after his daddy told him the story when he was seven, at the table, veal roasted with rosemary. How they were made. How the difference between veal & beef is the children. The veal are the children
of cows, are calves. They are locked in boxes the size of themselves. A body-box, like a coffin, but alive, like a home. The children, the veal, they stand very still because tenderness depends on how little the world touches you. To stay tender, the weight of your life cannot lean on your bones.
We love eatin what’s soft, his father said” (“Trevor” a poem by Ocean Vuong)
And I imagine your father being just Trevor’s, he probably taught you the world boys who cry, and boys who don’t take “what’s theirs”. Oh, the fine delicacy of stealing and slaughtering something small.
And now for the main course:
To the seed that will never be sown, to a child I would like to, but will never raise:
First off, I’m sorry.
To my mom, my grandma, my romantic partner, and society-
I cannot, and will not have children.
While it’s true that I would love to spend school nights coloring with my child, making books about different types of backyard bugs and the most delicious kinds of ice cream, this is something I cannot do.
I can’t teach my child how to swim, how it looks funny when you blow bubbles with your nose under the water like a hippopotamus, or how you have to save cicadas that fall in the water even though they’re a little scary.
I can’t read to them about very hungry caterpillars, or nice, sleepy rooms, or spoons or moons.
I can’t fall asleep next to them after reading the same book over again the third time.
This is something I was not made to do.
It’s something I cannot understand, my textbook lays it out very clearly
“Children of abusive parents learn their behaviour from infancy.”
Of course it also says, “Many adults overcome their past.”
But what does that entail?
Will it guarantee that when I have a breakdown and don’t know why I’m living my child won’t notice and learn how hard and cold the world can be?
Even my guinea pig knows when I’m stressed out, and it took me 2 years to have the responsibility to raise him.
I hear when you settle down with the right person, you’re supposed to raise a plant, then a fish, then a cat, then a dog, then 2 dogs, and if you’ve made it that far you’re ready for a child.
And I think with a little bit of hope, though I have no intention to have children:
well, we’re already past fish responsibility, and after all, this is our first pet.