My blood mother, I have never been free
of her, and it is years. I do not know her face.
Did I mention she was never here?

She did not wait to be willingly dismissed
though she must have known I was almost
dying—born unable to breathe or eat alone.

She walked away gone, ruptured the stale
hospital air. I was a sin she couldn’t forgive,
evidence of what Christian girls do not do.

I tell you she owns my mind like the heads
of the Hydra—one severed at the neck
grows two from the wound. There is so much

of her she is plural. But this is not mythical.
Hardly is it remarkable or was she.
I know it is not memory that follows me

but a hollow where some comforter never was.
Don’t think I don’t know what I’m up against,
that my inhabited mind weights my neck.

I am always facing down like a sunflower
with no lifting sun. The women I tend to love
either keep too close or go farther than gone.

They are her. They are me. Together this once.
A body within a body, a zero-sum game.
One woman loses her head, then two.


THE HYDRA by Ashley Crout



Photo used under CC