The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Yesenia Montilla – Poetry

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Yesenia Montilla

 

Inherited

My mother’s madness is a reaper
in the room of us
A cartel queen dripping in diamonds
A five-foot boar loose in a village
A life size doll with wooden teeth
A hurricane always about to make landfall
A tyrant with no nation
A collared animal that knows how to get free
A desperate lover
A disinterested lover
A lover that drugs its lovers
A disrespectful child on the subway at 7:00 a.m.
Her madness is a Kardashian on a publicity tour
A hungry beast that never feels full
or satisfied or whole
It stays up late
It smokes too many cigarettes
It can’t stop dancing long after its feet have gone numb
It laughs real loud
It eats edibles and calls it tea
It thinks it’s French
It thinks it’s Black
It thinks it’s jazz
It forgets to add salt    to everything
My mother’s madness lives in the mirror of my tiny apartment
It forgets to eat
It eats too much
It falls in love & then jumps out of it like a puddle
It writes shit & calls it genius
It writes shit & calls it trash
It devolves at the sight of a stain on its favorite shirt
It throws tantrums
It goes for long walks and forgets its way home
It forgets its bodegero’s name choosing to call him Joaquin
It tells you to shut the fuck up and then talks for hours
My mother’s madness is a parasite with lips that duplicates at the sight of me
It pries my mouth open to come inside
It has a plan
It is an inheritance
On sunny days it coaxes me with love notes & dirty talk
It comes close to my ear
It convinces me to let it stay
It whispers softly: trust me
I’ll make you a star —


Yesenia Montilla is an Afro Latina poet & translator, daughter of immigrants & native New Yorker. Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Gulf Coast, Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day and others. She received her MFA from Drew University in poetry & poetry in translation and is a CantoMundo Fellow. The Pink Box, her first collection, was long-listed for the Pen Open Book Award 2016.

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