All the Mothers

All the mothers, all the mothers of my life, all the mothers.  Are you sure that this is proper, this is right, have you crossed the line this time, say all the mothers. Don’t stand out, don’t stand higher, don’t have your head up where some man with an axe can chop it off. Don’t do that. Don’t aspire. Be good enough, no higher. Just be normal, though I am no surer, what that is than you are. Feel anxious, anxious about little things because looking at the big things, that can kill you. Be acceptable, acceptable, acceptable, acceptable—to everyone, to everyone at once! Are you sure you’ve done it right without offending? Your lipstick’s crooked, your slip is showing, even the Freudian one—you’ll be caught out, you’re sure to feel ashamed, so feel it prematurely.  Think of how you’ll feel if the blood soaks through and shows, shows at the back of your skirt—in school! Right when the teacher asks you to stand up and read your poem! It’s so much work to raise a properly self-conscious girl-child. All the mothers, all the mothers of my life.

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