If I love myself,
accept myself,
own myself,
what would you say?

You were angry.
I was that landslide pillar
Stevie Nicks sang about.
Were you afraid of changing?
You didn’t want me to grow up,
always under your green thumb,
rotting away.

Did you love me so much—
want to do right by me so bad—
that it turned into wrong?

I would have loved you all my life
If you had let me live my life
Instead of yours.

I can’t fix you. I don’t know what else to say.
Mother, you always told me
to mind my own business.
How I wish you’d minded yours.
You didn’t need me in order to be whole.
We both could have stood on our own,
with smooth, rounded edges,
the whole circumference of us,
not jagged slivers, alone.

I must feed my own soul now,
fill my hands with corn, berries,
peaches, fresh and alive.

Even now, when you are dead,
you must still save yourself.
I can only give you love.
The rest is
up to you.


2 thoughts on “Circumference

  1. So powerful. This is the story of so many mothers and daughters, and as such, will make sense to so many women. This is brilliant work.

  2. Thank you! The idea of writing to someone who is dead as if they still had work to do really intrigues me. There’s a book of poems called Velocity by Nancy Krygowski in which she writes poems where the narrator addresses her sister in her “new dead life” (I think that’s the wording).

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