on heart, head, fate, and monsters

source: pixabay

i’ve spent a lot of time lately considering the differences between my mother and my father.

one good, one bad (or so i thought).

one present (though gone) and one existing only in a time capsule, buried long ago by a child hiding from a fairy-tale monster.

one alive, one dead. the wrong way around……

one relationship so simple in its way: fear, self-preservation, loneliness. the other complex, far too much so for a child, and yet the child tried her best to understand.

the child became a master of retreating into her shell, a trick that worked to protect her from both the simplicity of hate and the complexity of imperfect love.

one story was preserved once upon a time; frozen into a history on the cusp of so much confusion and pain. it was easy before that first big decision, before i made a choice that was beyond my years. maybe that strength was misplaced. maybe it wasn’t strength at all. maybe the child who was so skilled at hiding away and turning all the pain inward did it too well. she still does the same today.

the life lines etched into the palms inherited from my mother and father are clear and true; only a fork early on where two branches meet. the heart line fractures and cuts across all those that represent head, health, fate. once i thought that meant something but i know better now. none of it matters, though the synchronicity feels reassuring somehow.

i would never have guessed that it would all turn around; the fairy-tale monster haunting the present, and the future, not gone forever.

after all, i didn’t beat the monster, i just ran away.

it’s funny how the past -the matters of the heart- do send fractures through the head, through health, through fate. grief is involuntary. i am transported. there is no control. i sit with my mother’s mother as she is dying and i take the place of her daughter, of imperfect love. more fractures, more of fate turning back on itself.

so as we wake the fairy-tale monster, i have to remember that i am no longer a child, and must forget a child’s fear. there is no more strength from my mother, but then i remember that my mother feared the monster too. imperfect love.

the strength will come from somewhere, a new wellspring. the child’s story is her own, the narrative is her own, the fairy-tale is her own. telling the story draws the water from the well.


oh, mother is a zine of a different kind; an ongoing collaborative digital initiative. please send contributions/pitches to fifteenkeats@gmail.com

i am sorry that i cannot pay for submissions.