There is a folded photograph on the vanity and a daisy
tucked above my right ear and I’m waiting for the woman
who birthed me to claim my childhood in unfiltered
motherness. In my mouth, her embrace tastes like a shot
of raw apple cider vinegar—sour and hollow with a touch
of sweet. I know that it’s good for the body, but it burns
the throat as it goes down. My mother’s hot love has never
been motherly. Her voice is loose and her lids are heavy
and her dreams are steely-eyed. All I want is an angel
to drape a shield of tongued sleep over my flat chest
and shower me with golden kisses and golden light.
All I want is to be lulled to sleep by a prayer sung
like a summer breeze across parched lips. All I want
is to learn how to mother a life too young to adore
anyone but the creature who nursed it. All I want
is to learn how to love and how to be loved. Mama,
I’ve been waiting for you to fall in love with my eyes
and my body and my voice since the day I watched
your uterus convulse into my baby brother’s existence.
Ravenous for a man’s protection, your lips immediately
imprinted on his sickly yellow skin. That drab morning,
you produced the child who would one day let you be
a child again. Mama, I’m sorry I am a daughter. Mama,
I’m sorry I am you, but motherless. Mama, I’m sorry
I have nothing to offer you save my thin frame and a pair
of swollen breasts that pound each other in the wind
like the fists of a big sister jealous of her infant brother.
Mama, I want you to know that I love your son despite
the fact his existence negates everything I am worth. Mama,
for eighteen years, I’ve been waiting for you to choose me
and place me, gently, into your curated museum of prized
possessions. Mama, let me be peaceful in your arms. Mama,
tell me everything will be okay. Mama, tell me you wanted
me to be born. Mama, please just tell me that I am enough.
Divya Mehrish is a writer and student at Stanford University. Her work has been recognized by the National Poetry Competition, the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, the Scholastic Writing Awards, and the Columbia College Chicago’s Young Authors Writing Competition. Her writing appears in Sojourners, PANK, Coastal Shelf, Prairie Margins, Broken Pencil, Roadrunner Review, Ricochet Review, Polyphony Lit, Tulane Review, and Amtrak’s magazine The National, among others.