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October 11, 2021 Poetry

You Make Me Cry

Molly Zhu

You Make Me Cry photo

You make me cry

when you talk about her, and only now do I realize
that you never knew your mother at all,
there simply was no space for her in your crowded pocket
carrying poverty like a sinking
stone, the two wooden slabs laid
across mounds of dirt as your school desk,
the rubber ball as your most prized
gift from your father, and a life where jobs were as scarce
as your family, then the years of hunger
and the disbelief when you first stepped foot into an
American grocery store all those years later, thinking
you'd been ushered into heaven. But I can’t
picture you as a young boy, no matter the colorful stories you tell –
you drive your shiny convertible, slurp your west coast
oysters, swirl your aged red wine, spin your yarns of gold, silk and silver,
you are every bit American as the way you can never quite
pronounce “hummus”, and always swimming in my mind
is your memory of scratching your mother’s back,
you would say, she always had an itch she couldn’t
and I imagine your tiny hands tilling the heart
of her spine in a simple way only a child and mother can
relish. I knew she couldn’t let you truly know her,
as a mirror constantly deflects its own soul.
When you left her home, you asked but who will
scratch your back when I’m gone?

and she could only
answer with salt water beading at her eyes,
those same rivers running through you,
that are passed on to me.

image: https://wanderwisdom.com/travelogue/Farewell-San-Francisco-of-My-Youth