Jessica Abughattas

after Sylvia Plath  


First they tell her how beautiful she is, then they turn their gaze toward you,
She looks like her father, your daughter doesn’t look like you
The same beauty mark and his last name from Peru
Father’s mother hated mama and you have her eyes steel blue
You tiptoe around mama and mama tiptoes around you
If today is good mama might bake a cake and let you stir the goo
and if you are good and quiet, she might let you lick the spoon
On bad days mama stays in bed and shuts herself in her room
You sit in front of the bannister and stick your fat legs through
You are solitude and rue, mama says, an animal from the zoo
You hate your feet, the sounds they make, when mama calls for you
to bring the pills, bring the bottles, boil the water for winter stew
Your steps inconvenience mama, mama is inconvenience too
Mama is the wicked witch on mute, air in place of the cackling shrew
When mama emerges from her lair with smile and sinew
She brushes your hair, irons your clothes and calls you honey dew
Then mama snaps back to black before the bottle can unscrew
It’s back back back to the bannister and dreams you might fall through
Dreams of screams that might make mama, mama finally finally listen to you
You heard mama say she never wanted children
What mama wants is a silk-white shirt, the funeral dirge, a house devoid of you
When you’re twenty she’s hip-less and gaunt, thinks she looks better than you
What rattles in mama’s brain so hard rattles in yours too
Why did you do this to mama, why did mama do this to you
Mama, mama you bitch, your 6 year old was stronger than you
Mama is the big house forever, vacant as has always been true
Five welts across your face, one for each finger not meant for you
You do not do, you do not do
That’s my daughter, mama says, thin and blonde and blue
She looks like her father but she’s a good little reader, and she didn’t get that from you
and mama says she is so, she is so, she is so, so proud of you
Mama is a dress made of lips and breasts drooping down like Pablo’s period in blue
Mama is Spain tearing flesh from flesh, leaves the wounds unstitched in you
You are Guernica, the hand that holds the lightbulb, then kaboom,
Mama needs her pills for the ache in her head, the ache in her back, the ache the ache of you,
Mama aches through the house, and the house, the house aches when she drips through
She says she’s like Dali, as she stains the walls in every starving hue, and the walls,
the walls ache too.

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