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Lexington Poetry Month

Stories I Tell Myself About an Unknown Mother

05Jun2019
POEM
3

You think of her every minute
of every day,
but you never speak a word.
You keep the pain to yourself,
because you have to.

You wanted her,
but you couldn’t afford the bills.
For the doctors,
for food,
for her care,
for her life.

You wrapped her up,
left her
and discreetly watched
from a distance,
until a police officer scooped her up,
whisked her into his arms
and mumbled into his radio.

She wasn’t what you wanted,
so you gave her to someone in town 
whose job it was
take care of girls like her.
You don’t want to know where they took her
or what they did to her.
You just wanted it over.

You keep living your life
like it never happened.
You hurt constantly.
There’s a hole in your heart where your child
used to be.
You know that she has a better life
without you.

You still hold on to hope that
maybe
one day she will find you.

You never think about her.
You pushed it from your brain.

You wonder if she looks like you.
You wonder where she is.
You don’t want to move
because maybe she still lives in the city
and one day you’ll run into her in the streets 
you’ll see yourself in her
and know immediately.

You don’t want to be found.

Your husband forced you to,
it wasn’t your choice.

You were single and unmarried.
You just couldn’t take care of her
on your own.

You wonder what your life would be like now
if she was with
you.
You wonder if your family would accept her.
You wonder who she would be.

You will regret it
until the day that you die.

After she was gone
you stopped eating.
You felt nothing.
You wanted to die.

After she was gone
you went back to work
and made small talk with your co-workers.
You felt nothing.
Later you felt guilt
because you felt nothing about it
at all.

You are glad that you did it.

Every day when you pass by the park,
by a school,
or mothers are walking their daughter down a busy street
you feel a pain deep inside
and your eyes become watery,
but you just keep walking.

When you ask someone how old their child is,
you think about her
and start tabulating in your mind
how old she is now.
What year was it?
It seems so long ago.

It feels so long ago,
like it happened to someone else.
You’re glad that it almost feels like it wasn’t
you.

You enjoy your life
and you’re glad you don’t have to carry around
the weight of it
every day.

It seems like it was yesterday.
It will never stop feeling like an
open
wound.  

You wake up each morning
and carry on.


3 responses to “Stories I Tell Myself About an Unknown Mother”

  1. Malinda, I’m so happy you are writing with us again this year. This poem is masterful. The double layer of imagining going on. Mothers in different senses connect through a child. Each on wondering, imagining, telling stories to themselves about one another its novel and true. Thank you so much for this powerful poem.

  2. Susan Stephens says:

    You have stolen my breath with these wonderings. Excruciatingly moving.

  3. Melva Sue Priddy says:

    Powerful.

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