Since my mother lives inside me, I bake a lemon
cake and frost it with a blunt knife. In weeks of frizz
and fat rattles I knew her as my Other. We’re two
people, she said. Start hardening. In autumn
she taught me to use a shower. Hot bullets over her breasts.
Our bathing suits shriveled on the hook like blue
cocoons. Feet pruned on a bath mat. Her body’s foreign
adornments — thick and jiggle, dents in the soft of her neck.
I should have asked how to swim, to scrub under my nails.
Work office jobs, pound meat, peel heels off when my feet molt
blisters, conceive of a house without her pans’ dull clang. Lately
she’s soft-eyed. Listens to stereo jazz, sees trees tremble
on the window’s other end. They are tall, with longevity.
We imagine cancer as a fork-tongued hiss.
Spits poison, kills in every language. In summer
her hair could fall like corn, chest a flatland rippled by ribs.
Under my bra I get faraway throbs. Some days
I say I came from nothing like Eve, bloomed in mulch.
To deny the specificities of lineage, to forget this story’s
salt. She baked and yelled, dried me in linen, combed
knots from my hair. Truer to say
I borrowed her body, lived in it parasitic. Now
without trying, her voice flowers out my mouth.
Kathleen Radigan is a twenty-one year old undergraduate English major at Wesleyan in Connecticut. She is an anxious person. Her work has been previously published in The Adroit Journal, Atrocity Exhibition, The Harpoon Review, and several others.