The Bad Mother
I hate you, I scream
I wish you had never been born.
And too often, I do.
there are minutes, hours, even whole days, sometimes,
when I long for the calm stillness
of life without you,
for sane and peaceful conversations with your father,
for talk of books, politics, people—anything but
your fear of blankets, your obsession with germs, your anxiety about math.
You try yoga on the red mat:
downward dog with your butt in the air.
Your therapist says this will change your brain chemistry,
teach you to relax, but
you worry that your legs aren’t straight,
your breathing not deep enough.
Sometimes we are on the cusp of normalcy.
I try, with nutrition and nurturing, to push you over,
to move you, like Dorothy,
from your black-and-white existence to a world of color,
to plant you, like the daisies you love,
in a bright garden of now.
But too often you don’t see the world around you,
either the socks you dropped on the stairs
or the orange brilliancy of the sun sinking beneath the hill,
and too often you sit like a boulder on my heart,
your anxiety breaking the sternum and crushing
the tender pink muscle beneath.
you thank me for every meal I prepare,
for every trinket I buy for you.
Every time I brush your unruly hair
or your metal-covered teeth, and every time
I answer a question about a book you don’t understand,
you are grateful. And
unlike so many teenagers,
you have never once said I hate you.
Your therapist says there are no bad kids,
only kids who make bad choices.
I wonder if the same
is true for mothers.
She’s In Control
she lets them sit
like rising bread dough
these bits of image
she waits for months
checking on them
now and then
the way she would
check on the baby
just to be sure
she tunes them
like a clarinet
or pushing in
unlike her children
may never rise
to the occasion
just to sit