– michelle tea (from the beautiful)
i talked to my mother today,
her voice was thick with sleep
and cigarettes. i could
almost smell that house
and the smoke that soaked
my clothes, the television glow
spilling over worn plaid white trash
couch and coffee table stained
with waxy rings from sweating glasses
of coke, the stale stink of homemade
knitted afghans wrapped around
sweaty feet, the shoes, the soft white
nurses’ shoes, dirty with hospital germs,
but wait, wrong house, she is
lifting my voice to her ear in a new house
without holes in walls, without daughters
without even a room for daughter
should they repent and return,
should the patriarch die.
she wants to know if i’m happy
but she does not want to know
what is making me happy
dark bars where i get drunk on words
i am writing, i say, i have a new book
and the line becomes this void filled with her fear,
what fucked up thing has happened now
to pull words from my pen, she doesnt want
to know and the line is this void filled
with anger i will never express
thinking about the woman i loved for a year,
we crisscrossed the country three times together.
i’ve without her for four months
and my mother, she doesnt ask
she has never even asked.
and i’m in love, i tell her,
that’s why i am happy.
im in love every day
every day with someone new
i’m in love with this whole city,
like the love was there first
and these women just make me
want to share it, and women,
yes, women, and sometimes it feels
like they could be in love too
they offer me their tongues
tucked in the red velvet boxes of
their mouths and i am in love,
i tell ehr (leaving out the details).
that’s nice, dear.
nights spent in a love
that yields her no grandchildren
making as much sense
as a job that yields no pay.
but i’m an activist. ma,
it’s volunteer work, it feeds my soul.
work is drudgery
and she works, she works 703
she works 3-11
she works 11-7
till her nose becomes blind to the smell
of shit and living too long, she goes home
to her home, the home she owns, she
is a homeowner, with brand new furniture
cheap green velver, they are for show
they are guests who can sit
with their assess tightly clenched,
and all those thick-haired dolls with careful
porcelain faces tucked curely into curios
and her animals, the cat she tore
the claws from, the dog barking
from its fenced pantry pen.
living things are such a responsibility,
they are so hard to control, but she tries.
and i love her, i love her
i love her like a mother loves a daughter
who is moving in the wrong direction,
hanging out with the wrong crowd,
going with a guy you know is just no good.
i love her with a love big enough to hold every hurt
every time she did me wrong,
and the betrayal,
the big one like the atom bob, the one
that worked us into ground zero like
we’re living in nevada now, out in the desert
and every time i get too close i fear contamination
and i love her, so i weld words into instruments
trying to pry the crack in her heart
but they’re too big, clumsy to make her angry
or too small, sliding from my fingers into that place
where she keeps everything she never wants to see
(her life). and i love her, she is dying a slow,
slow death that will have taken her whole life to reach
in that house, with her cigarettes, her television.
her hamburger helper and her husband.
and i love her.