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your mother is just your mother

by Khadija Sharife


your mother is just your mother
cool hand on the burning forehead,
steaming basmati rice on fridays,
but she is also
bodies broken into words forming sentences that function as cages
she is the wrong side of the struggle, built right-side up
inside, where nobody goes
she is five locks on the door with keys clutched in sweaty palms
shadows behind the windows and tapped phones
(even now, got milk is ‘coming home soon’;
even now, the word ‘alone’ is not to be mentioned)
she is two sets of grandparents,
the real and the believed, pictures of homes with no addresses
postcards with no names; and multiple beginnings;
where monsters are people are shapeshifters,
your cousin, your father
– you?
and whispered lullabies never to trust anyone
including her.