Gone Lawn
a journal of word-things
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Gone Lawn 53
wolf moon, 2024

Featured artwork, Within Grasp, by Jacelyn Yap

new works

Naana Hutchful

My Mother (or an attempt at finishing things with no end)

my mother pulls me into her lap because i am hers. she holds her words between us like a promise, the intimacy compounded by her fingers running lazily through my tight curls. this is just for the two of us. this life, everything she does. she is mine. and now i betray the reticent sanctity of this ritual.

my mother, the one at the top of every unfinished poem and prose, tells me that my father has been unfaithful. i cry with her. i am eight years old and i count my happiness by the stars above me, intensified when she looks at me in fleeting moments of tenderness. today, the stars are gone and i linger in a stormy cloud.

my mother is beautiful in any light. the moon loves her. my mother peels an orange and it comes away clean in a swift motion. i see her in everything.

i love my mother.

she calls my father “the girl’s father” as if to put as much intangible distance between us as she can manage. a me vs. them where she is still a good mother. she harrasses a woman she suspects of trying to seduce my father. i tell her about my father’s actual wife, the one he shares a home with, you can’t play house with a married man. she kicks me out for the first time. when i find my way back she pulls my head into her chest, look what you’ve done to me.

when the police come looking for my mother i haven’t seen her in weeks. i shake my head, bite the corner of my lips, train my eyes down to their scratched boots. i don’t tell them she’s hiding because i don’t know it. they rip apart our fragilely constructed home. tell her we were here when she comes back. i nod, slowly until they leave. it is none of my concern. i can only save myself.

i bring a boy into the hollow of my body. later, we lay down with my arm wrapped around his back and my head across his chest. he smells like lavender and he calls his mother everyday. i sink my teeth into his chest for a sip of bracing normalcy. what about you, he asks. what about me?

my mother, the dragon, is breathing down fire on our house because i told her i think i might like girls. no, edit this later. maybe, something introspective about my mother teaching me to beg for control, that things only go if you let them go. my relationship with my mother is defined by her comings and goings. she disappears into spaces i can’t inhabit when i need a mother. i am only a disillusioned caricature of hormones growing accustomed to the gnawing absence.

i become//more of my mother//and the mystery leaves//my body in the form//of uncontrollable tears//quietly misplaced//sometimes on the train//sometimes in the bed of a lover// who asks me if i am enjoying myself//and when i cry she worries//she has done irreparable damage//and maybe she has//my mother would hate her

my mother is an idea/often a good one/a better one with distance/more real to me in abstraction/a bad regressive one in the version/my ex-boyfriends know or/the girlfriend she can never /find out about

Naana Hutchful like most people likes to think that they are a writer, and like most people aspires to live in a little house by the sea with a beautiful woman. Their work has appeared in Maudlin House, Unbroken Journal and elsewhere.