A BETTER MOTHER by Elya Braden

A Better Mother

In those days, I hung our moments together

on the walls of the museum of I am a good enough

mother. To that photo of my daughter

she still despises, her restless curls tangled

above her sweaty forehead after she

Supermanned the last leg of our jungle

zipline, a leering monkey gouging

her shoulder, its cheek bulging

with banana, I give pride of place,

centerpiece in the pavilion of What I did

for love, next to a bucket

of water gleaned from the hurricane

of rain that barricaded us indoors

four days of that same trip, my children

a sullen puddle soaking into the couch,

drowning out my entreaties to Let’s

play a game with the constant

roar of TV. What is a mother if not

eggs burning on the stove, cereal wilting

in its milky bath, the echo of Get down here

now, the bus is coming in 10 minutes!?

How could I love myself if I was only

hands tossing a football to my son,

the repository of where things are and

a monthly bank deposit to my ex,

the space in which my daughter could

spill the bitter tea leaves of our relationship

to our therapist, another woman who was,

I had no doubt, a better mother than I.

Elya Braden, 60, lives in Oxnard, CA. She a writer/mixed-media artist and is Assistant Editor of Gyroscope Review.

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