This is the first and only lesson. That a woman may die
at the hands of her children. In the Enuma Elish, for instance,
the world is molded from the body of an ocean
goddess, Tiamat. The she-dragon mourned a fresh water god,
but what can correct the loss of the beloved? Tiamat’s son
beat her skull in with a club to form the earth and heavens,
split her corpse down the spine like a glistening fish.
This is consistent with what I know of the cruelty of children.
When I was a girl, my mother removed her reproductive organs,
cut out a tumor as large and feathered as the inside of a grapefruit.
Even as a fetus I think I was spinning her uterus into a knot
of stars. Tunneling a path through the city, I still feed on her body, another
maggot in the goddess-carcass. So if I say I want to wrap my shoulders
in a canopy of my mother’s skin, really I mean, please, let me be
unlonely. Even when I can’t see you, I’m looking your way
and below, the crust of the planet tilts as though, half-formed,
a foot stretches against the plates. At one point, my mother tells me,
When I was in New York, I thought I was going crazy.
I was pregnant, carrying your brother home from surgery—
I don’t say I fucked a stranger recently or that between positions,
he slipped off the condom, which perhaps, is the easiest method
to expand the body into an ocean, then a serpent, then a corpse.
Nothing can correct the loss of my beloved on earth. A cold
wind blew up my skirt on the walk home and I didn’t know
if I stepped in something or if the rind of the city was always rot
and citrus. I kept wanting to slip from my skin, pry off my thigh
beads of semen with a knife, stop the whiteness from worming in.