I was raised in a run-down mobile home; the décor,
nothing to pride ourselves on: popcorn ceilings
& worn carpet, where my mother paced back & forth,
wearing a path in the floor, plotting how to fix
whatever it was my father had just broken. He did not
destroy things, not objects with price tags, at least.
He damaged only the unseen: little girls’ hearts,
ideas of worth, & his wife’s attempt at home-making.
My mother mended everything with grace, even if
it was with the spirit of a wild creature hellbent on
protecting her own. She always managed to tuck us in
at night without our wondering if we were loved, without
our needing the acceptance of family who could not
see past our brown eyes, not at all favoring their blues.
She braided our hair & dressed us as if we were, in fact,
worth a lifetime of sacrifice. My sister & I knew
our mother was nothing like what other children had—
ours was our truth, the backbone of our character,
the woman who instilled in us her finest strengths
& most tender losses. She taught us what it is to be
women left to our own devices, & how to have pride
in the smallest of endeavors.
(Previously published at Chiron Review)
I took him that morning. My sister, as worn
as her son from his colic, needed rest.
I sat with him in the rocking chair—
both of us aching from his cries.
Eleven days old, the child was mine,
if only long enough to lull him
with the songs of my youth.
His back to my chest,
my heartbeat strong behind him—
his frustration broke with the growl
of grunge. Eddie Vedder’s incoherence
soothed his screams, stole his focus.
We rocked back and forth
beginning to sync with the drums
and then I heard it:
of his calm breaths release.
I held my nephew close,
slouched down in that old chair,
each immersed in a new state
of love and trust.
(Previously published at Up the Staircase Quarterly)
What Hips Are Meant For
My sister wishes for a little girl to stand next to her son,
to have my eyes & her curiosity. Sometimes I want to see
how far my car can go before turning around all because
I miss someone or some thing. She says I have hips meant
for birthing, which I could take offense to if she were
anyone else. If I were anyone else, the idea of being
someone’s every morning might be everything. Nothing
might be what I’ll grow used to. My sister holds her belly,
her son inside, waiting for his life to begin; I look at maps,
wondering where I’d feel at home & if I’ll ever learn
my way around regrets. She worries about shelter & how
to keep my nephew safe; I spend too much time thinking
about tattoos & how they’ll keep me in my skin. My sister
is now planning her life for others; I become too distracted
trying to escape the boundaries I belong to. She knows
I have a name for a daughter & the eyes to watch her grow;
I cannot be sure I have a place for one.
(Previously published at Rogue Agent)
Rachel Nix is an editor for cahoodaloodaling, Hobo Camp Review and Screen Door Review. Her own work has appeared or is forthcoming in Anti-Heroin Chic, L’Éphémère Review, Occulum and Pidgeonholes. She resides in Northwest Alabama, where pine trees outnumber people rather nicely, and can be followed at @rachelnix_poet on Twitter.
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