tagNon-Erotic PoetryA Mother's Letter to her Son

A Mother's Letter to her Son


Why do you stare at me like that
as though the cat
disdained to drag me in?
When you arrived your
half-turned body made my
hug meet your bony hip and my
lips kissed unwashed hair, and now
you sit in sulphurous silence, a
dead-pool in this
maelstrom of merriment with
eyes that poison me.

I know you miss your father: do I? Not really,
no. That hateful man took me like he took forts—
often, and with no pleasure for the taken—
and once I was big with you, my
maids were besieged instead so the
court is full of your half-brothers—
didn't you know? Children you
played with—-maybe your
best friend? All I could do was
weep and leap at kindnesses and your
uncle was always kind, with a
smile here and a hand to help there and a
murmured compliment on my looks when my
husband's eye told me otherwise, and you
grew up, grew distant, went away, and then he
died and I rejoiced, God help me,
freed for one second to be myself.

That same night your uncle came to me, to
mourn, commiserate, say all the
starchy, hypocritical things one says but I
stopped him with a kiss that turned into an
embrace that turned into the
fuck that changed my life and
wretchedly seems to have
changed yours.

It's the sex that disgusts you, isn't it? That your
middle-aged Mother could
kiss a man, want him? Well I do—
he's my deluge after the
draught of my marriage, my
wetlands where I will winter
safe in his feathered breast.

And why are sweat-stained beds only for
the young? I revel in the
draining effusions that
drench the sheets, having never
felt them before: they
make me feel dirty and happy and
sixteen again. Perhaps I will have
another child? What do you think?

Oh look at you! Poor monkey! So much
intellectualisation and not enough sex:
why don't you put that
sad lust-addled girl out of her
misery? She follows you like a dog so
fuck her like one, or are you
too cruel, too obsessed with your
father, your uncle, me?

I didn't expect my sweet boy to
hate women so. I beg you,
stop this now before it's too late and
every night becomes like this one, full of
rancour and sour distress,
going round in circles, suffocating
dawn's hope with dusk's despair
because every night, I swear,
it will end badly.

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