reverberations of the bitter lady
I was always her reflection recreated in
both appearance and temperament,
an echo of wide birthing hips for big German babies and
thick short legs for standing as close as possible to the clay soil.
My stubbornness was never mine.
It was taken from me and reshaped into bull's horns
whittled from barn door wood.
I look at her in pictures and wince.
We smile with the same thin lips
pulled taunt as if hiding something
other than crooked teeth.
Not that there are many photos of either at us
as we both duck and hide the moment a camera is produced.
Long ago, when I would fall apart,
I would press the entirety of my weight into
the carpet, meld flesh with fiber,
become an immovable object
the heaviness of her generational diaspora on top of me.
We throw separate but equal tantrums,
hers full of repeated disownings
while mine were a constant practice in conceding.
Her throat was permanently coated
with fresh cream and flour thickened with lard.
Of course there was no room for pills to slide down.
The motion of swallowing develops from practice
and I have rehearsed every morning and night for the last ten years,
further along in the race when she hasn't even heard the starter's pistol
echo off of the side of the two room farmhouse,
bone white and decaying.
Rachael Gay is a poet and artist living in Fargo, North Dakota. Her work has appeared in Anti-Heroin Chic, Quail Bell, Rag Queens, Déraciné Magazine, Gramma Poetry, FreezeRay Poetry, Rising Phoenix Reviewand others. More of her work can be found at witchinghourpoetry.tumblr.com.