Watching above from a window
during my lunch break
the woman across the street
looks like my mother.
She’s wearing the same kind of clothes
white 70s inspired pants
white tiny circled patterned top
white summer hat with a long trailing tail
breathing in the urban breeze.
She’s walking in the same way too
a hurried, anxious, determined pace
as if she’s weaving thoughts
solving problems on her way home
or to the bank to make a deposit
or to the Korean grocery store.
Where she’ll chat with the unfriendly owners
who smirk at me because I can’t speak
my ancestral language anymore
and therefore I don’t belong
to the tribe.
But she’s still proud
because I’m her lost baby,
her last bird with the bright eyes
before they were given away
the one she had to leave behind
the one who never gained her approval.
I can’t say goodbye
afraid we’ll fight again
over old bitter wounds
and reverse our frayed bonds
Illness is an excuse
to stay away in long distance
brief conversations over glimpses of things
she’s still alive and always will survive
as long as life itself exists
my mom’s a part of it
that’s why I see her in other people
versions of her as I remembered
full of dream panoramic
symbols of nostalgic memory.
She was always so resolutely strong
She never would give up ever
all my life I was a vegetarian
since childhood I was sensitive,
but she still tries to make me eat beef
Because she survived war poverty
and physical violence as a child
and again as a long suffering wife.
Survived having a critical
mother and husband
by being a critical mother and wife.
She was usually right,
against our father, she was always right
and he knew it too,
it humiliated him that we knew
and made him rage
like the Incredible Hulk
or pretend victimhood, cast blame and sulk.
She was indomitable, statuesque, giantess
while father was short, charming, slouching.
I see her as inventive competitive witty
a mathematical prodigy
top of her class, first in line, expert at strategy
naturally liberated but she tried not to be
if it went against tradition or god.