Keep the boys away, Emma Jane,
you must know what you do to them.
My mother’s fears of boys
eating up my smiles,
feeling my calve muscles
curve under their touch as
they ease my legs apart,
are borne from her self-loathing.
She’s told me I’m unwanted.
She’s told me I saved her
from becoming Sylvia Plath.
And yet I mortify her,
I keep her tossing all night long.
She hates knowing they’ve touched me.
She hates knowing I liked it.
She remembers me in my tiny
underwear, sticky little thighs
glued to the couch with
popsicle juice and messy toddler fingers.
She watched Jurassic Park with me
every day as I helped myself
to sliced hot dogs and macaroni
and she helped herself to slices
of Sam Neill. Imagined him
lowering his aviators and freeing
her from my tyrannosaurus father.
Imagined his dew-drop blue eyes feasting
on her flesh as I ceased
to exist in reality, a virtual
dream like the dinosaurs on the screen.
But I never went away.
My hair grew long like she
liked it and I chopped it off.
She stopped buying my underwear
as they lost their cotton to
make room for the lace. She saw
her doll leaving her, no longer
begging for Jurassic Park. No
more Sam to feed her insecurities
and fantasies, just the rumble
of water in a glass as my father
boomed home at night. Until.
A snowy day. A quiet theater,
solace amid a manic film festival.
She felt her hips fill the seat, cursed
herself for eating for the first time in days.
She touched her hair, cursed the frizz
that never tamed like her daughter’s did.
She brushed her nose as she stood,
for fuck’s sake why is it so big?!
And then he was there. Just behind my aunt,
dew-drops gleaming, smile wide as ever.
My mother’s face flushed,
her thighs ached as they clenched
where she stood. He passed. Continued walking.
My aunt chuckled, swore he was looking at her.
My mother, breathless, swears it was at her.
But her hair is hideous, after all. Her nose enormous.
And those goddamn hips must take up
the entire theater. How could she
let herself out in public, she thinks.
How could she have imagined
his hands on her worthless breasts?
That night she comes home and
throws my training bras away.
She watches my growing hourglass dance
and knows that boys will fuck me.
The Xanax is extra sweet that night.