The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Tina Kelley – Just One More, Mama

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Tina Kelley

 

Just One More, Mama

“Wicked” and “step” are the only kinds of mothers.
Name one mom left breathing in Disneyland.
Orphaned: Bambi, Cinderella, Snow White.
Scraping by with just dad: Belle, Jasmine, Ariel.
Sent to inadequate foster care: Sleeping Beauty and Simba.

When Kate and I play sisters
she always makes us orphans.

Mothers are mere learning tools,
manipulables in the classroom,
something to push against, to learn from,
to erode, or try, until the limits push back.

She says,
If I kick it, I go to my room.
She says,
If I stick my tongue out at it, I get a talking-to.
She says,
If I roll my eyes at it, what can she do?

She plays,
If it’s dead in every fantasy,
more power for me.

Think of the verbs done to a mother:
Inhabit, tear apart, suckle.
Exhaust, enchant, enthrall.
Frustrate, entertain, wear down.
Suck dry, enrich, crack up.
Inspire. Love fiercely. Love selfishly.

Take.

Two stories before bed, and I fight sleep every time,
almost speaking in tongues from the lulling rhythms.
But without me to read these technicolor matricides,
would she ever sleep through the night?

 

Return to “Storied Mothers.”


Tina Kelley’s Rise Wildly appeared in 2020 from CavanKerry Press, joining Abloom & Awry, Precise, and The Gospel of Galore, a Washington State Book Award winner. She co-authored Breaking Barriers: How P-TECH Schools Create a Pathway from High School to College to Career and Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope and reported for a decade for The New York Times. She and her husband have two children and live in Maplewood, NJ.

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