` Span

Span 37

Journal of the South Pacific Assoc for Cwlth Lit and Language Studies
Number 37, 1993
Yorga Wangi:
Postcolonialism and Feminism

Edited by Anne Brewster, Marion Campbell, Ann McGuire, Kathryn Trees

My Mother Made Flesh

Stacey Smithers

my mother had one inverted nipple. my grandmother said this was a sign.
when i am ten my mother writes me long letters. the words are shells. shells carefully collected as she strolls along her shore-lined page. shells. deliberately strung. she picks only the smooth conical ones. the ones that she knows have sustained life. could sustain life if need be.
my mother had false teeth. this worried me.
she fears water. never learns to swim. the bottom of her country town pool has too much broken glass on it to be safe. she becomes afraid that the water, like the glass, will cut her. devour her. leave her shredded, bleeding as she sinks into it.
on that night, my sister hears portioning and peeling coming from my room.
today my mother sits on the tiled lip. the tiled cracked lip of the bassendean municipal pool. she is watching me paddle about. i catch her eye. she is staring at me straight. straight and hard. the water is the colour of her eyes. clear cut and blue. the water multiplies her sharpness. her stare. i know she is willing me to float. to keep my head up. she will not let go.
my mother never ages.
when my mother was small she spoke in a language she invented for herself. listening to her daughter speak my grandmother decided she had the voice of a demon and promptly enrolled her in the local convent school. here my mother learnt to speak latin.
my mother says she can make out neil diamond's face between the big dipper and the southern cross.
sometimes the line between us. between mother and daughter. sometimes the line between us is pulled so taut it does not quiver when i pluck it. sometimes it lies at my feet crossed and knotted. usually it is so loose i use it to fish for deeper things.
on that night, the night she left. on that night i took to her. took to her memory. took to her memory with my small hands and a red pen knife.
my mother left my father for a man with pebbled eyes. worn down and hard. this worried me.
my mother was obsessed with genealogy. she spent hours plotting family lines on sheets of paper she designed specifically for the purpose. she spent hours marking dates, names and joining lines with different colour textas. after a while i thought her pages resembled enormous caricatures. i never told her this.
when i am fifteen i dream that my mother is a jelly fish and i am the ocean. beautiful and soft blue we lie safe in each others arms. in the morning my tears taste like salt.
on another night. the night she was murdered. on another night i will collect these lacerated fleshy moments. will hush their wild flapping and tangling. will encourage them into this comfortable woven thing. this comfortable woven thing that can be stretched, be reshaped. that can be stretched and reshaped but never questioned.

Canberra


New: 13 December, 1996 | Now: 20 April, 2015