My Mother Is a Fountain or a Thread

by Rachel Reeher

My mother, reaching into my mouth to scoop up broken phrases, half-formed songs swimming. A cracked tooth hides a quiet thought that went something like I am not enough to love, to be loved and her fingers find the words as they are lining up on the tip of my tongue and right before they tumble out No, she says, and crumples them like paper, tosses them into the trash.

Mother, squeezing my sunburnt shoulders, stirring oregano into a bubbling pot and from the corner of her mouth comes You are smart and you are fierce and she is counting the freckles on my aloe-slick arms, blowing on a spoonful of red sauce before she raises it to my lips like here, you are here.

Mother, dipping dead leaves into a sea of color because nothing is ever only what it appears to be, nothing is ever just weak-brittle-powerless-of course, haven’t you heard that a bumblebee shouldn’t be able to carry its own weight? A scientific mystery floating over our own heads?

Mother, my mother, whipping egg whites into soft peaks, humming notes from far off places to fold into sweet meringue, into my girlhood, into the thread of my cerebral cortex where I’ll stumble upon it one day one day it will remind me that I am not an empty, shadowed room.

Mother, scrunching the folds of a wool throw in her hands, stacking books plants glass beads waterfall of knowledge and simple beauties dripping over the edges of our bookshelf our coffee table our nooks and crannies because this, this pleasure is what a room should hand back to you, what a home should whisper in your ear.

My mother drinking coffee in a crack of light before the world has rubbed its morning eyes. Still and magnetic and absorbed in a sadness that only she can see, only she has dipped her hands into and when I round the corner there is a split second where she is not my mother, she is elsewhere, haunted.

My mother, running smooth fingers through my tangled hair, kissing my eyelids for twenty-three years to hide hard truths like dad is downing pills to ease his ache but my mother is a tectonic plate, shifting to cover up a boiling pain.

Mother mother mother fountain of information brain science Home&Garden brushstroke magic—one day I look up and yes, clues, she is a rising tide of clues that peek into the inner workings of life, humanity, survival, of how to do your taxes or trim a hydrangea, how to glue a fractured thing back together again, to find enough of its pieces to be mostly whole.

Mother did you hear me? I said your name spoke it to myself to my empty house the leaves on my dying plants heard your name and sprung back up up toward the sky, a hundred hands raised, a hundred sun rays, a hundred times a day I see you crouched in your garden, fingers stained with clay, remind me remind me what I am.

Rachel Reeher is a North Carolina born writer and currently an MFA candidate in Fiction at Arizona State University. 
Artwork by: Neemias Seara