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I am
the viper in your bosom.
You nursed me.
Venom was your mother’s milk.

You did not
connect me
to the Earth.

Frail, Mother.
False, Mother

openly resentful.
degradingly critical.
I was never your little girl.

Mornings I’d watch you
Brushing my hair,
Narrowed eyes reflected in the mirror.

A chore. Your burden.

Evenings, exhausted
from bowing and scraping,
from not getting your due,
you’d cut me-
your tongue an obsidian dagger.

My heart yielded
carmine rills of blood.
Enough to quench
our gods of old.

I was the parasite
in your belly,
Suffocated in your womb-
By girdles and bandages.
A dirty secret
shrouded in lies.

You never wanted me.

You should have left me
on a hillside to die.
Dashed me on the rocks.
Smothered me with your pillow.

Alas, no.

You enjoy the small deaths,
the slow deaths.
You strangle me with silken ropes,
‘til the color drains from my face.
I gasp for air,
you cover me in kisses.
Then wipe your lips of me.

Oh, how I loathe you.

The nights spent in tormented desperation.
My tender years made brittle.
A heavenly body
Consigned to your Dantean hell.
We will never orbit the same star.

Would that you would evanesce-
that would be too kind.

I hear the beating of wings-
The Erinyes are watching.
I would be Orestes.

Anything you are,
I won’t.
Anything you’ve been,
I shan’t.
You are empty, broken.
Bereft of kindness, compassion.
Denier of love-
Butterfly killer.
Dream crusher.
Demented tormenter.

I’d hold you,
Fragile and aged-
I haven’t the strength.
I’d comfort you,
Mourn with you.
Affection was never your strong suit.
You’d make
life’s fragrance
a fetid stench.
But I will not let you.

Frail mother,
false mother,
wrong mother.
How I’d love you.
If you’d only
shown me how.

Yania Padilla

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The following comments are for "Cantos de Mi Madre (The Mater Canto)"
by Yania

for me?
This poem was spell binding. I felt an intimacy with the writer and the subject .. perhaps because I'm so far removed from such a nasty existence? Not sure ..
What it sort of reminded me was Tony Soprano's mother ..

( Posted by: Pen [Member] On: February 6, 2011 )

wow! such a visceral rendering - sad with weight and conviction. Well done!

( Posted by: jonpenny [Member] On: February 8, 2011 )

Consigned to your Dantean hell
Great lines in this. Goes on a bit long but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Wondering if you also wrote this in Spanish.

I suspect the (possibly original) Spanish version has a more immediate effect on the reader.

( Posted by: toscano [Member] On: February 9, 2011 )

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