CUT FROM THE SAME CLOTH*
MK Chavez (Oakland, CA)
I am my mother’s negligee,
pale and antiqued, like the fluff
of her slippers.
When I remember my mother she is soft
like she wasn’t towards the end.
I picture her at the San Francisco Zoo
in a mini dress and platforms, precarious.
I held her hand in the lion’s house
and father wanted to stay
to watch the feeding
and she could not.
I held her hand tightly
because if I held
it tight enough I thought
I might become part
of her and then neither of us
would have to be so alone.
When my mother lost her mind
for the fifth time (it was early
enough that we were still counting)
her father called her blasphemy,
beast and possessed.
It was the time of being a girl,
then an armadillo,
then the meat torn apart
by the lions. As I was devoured
I asked politely, “ Is this what
becomes of the body?”
I have never stopped
searching for the clothed
animal from which I came.
We were living in the end
times. It was in vogue to name
a woman who you’ve hurt
crazy or daughter.
*originally appeared in Chavez’s collection, Mothermorphosis (Nomadic Press 2016)
Latinx writer, MK Chavez is the author of several chapbooks including Mothermorphosis. Dear Animal, her first full collection was released in October 2016 by Nomadic Press. Chavez is co-founder/curator of the reading series Lyrics & Dirges and co-director of the Berkeley Poetry Festival. She is a fellow with CantoMundo and San Francisco Grotto. In 2017 Chavez’s poem The New Whitehouse, Finding Myself in The Ruins, was selected by Eileen Myles for the Cosmonauts Avenue Poetry Award, and she was a recipient of the Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award.