To the Woman Who Has Become My Daughter’s Stepmother
by Jessica Helen Lopez
Your hatred for me is a biblical error, a misstep or a twelve-year tragedy
I should have seen coming. You probably don’t know this but when your
man, was my man he spat in my face once. I allowed the sinewy rope
of saliva to stay there a bit, sluice-loosed in the corner pocket of my eye.
The thin ridge of my nose. It glistened. Opaque, a rivulet of starry-eyed
diamonds above the dovetail of my lip. A melting pearl. My daughter has
my lips. It was the end. The grand finale that all historical tyrants yearn for;
the last act of warfare or matricide or mass swan dive into a suicidal
fuck-it-all-I’ve-lost Hail Mary. You probably don’t know this either, but he
ran. He ran from my doorstep shrill with fright like a boy who lit the wrong end
of a Black Cat firecracker. Odd how I never thought to call on the cops.
Strange how our instincts can be pulverized to a dead end, a pulp of echoless
nerves. Live wires hollowed and sleepy-eyed for so many years. But you,
with your terrible silences and taciturn cheekbones (high and pointed not
unlike my own) so colorless your glance and a double-barrel shot gun
where your vocal cords would be. Buckshot choked back and the smoke
amasses in my belly, coiled like a sleeping snake. Translucent but very much
there. Very much real. It is not enough to call you trigger. You hate me the way
he hated me and it makes me hate myself until I remember that
I don’t. Hate me, that is.
That is an old bone I no longer worry. To the woman who, after all
these winding and unwinding years has become my daughter’s
stepmother. Reminder, her body is not a target. Her spirit not
a pin-cushion for your sharpened daggers. She is not your misplaced
misanthropic antidote. When you have imbibed all that is left to
absorb that thing that resembles compassion, remember. When you
have wrung the last dark waters from the slack wash towel of his heart,
remember. My daughter is not you, is not your myopic version of me.
Is not him, a remote and angry island. She is fidelity. She is deliberate
song and stretch of bone. She is the impetus of a holy and naïve love.
And lest you forget, remember. Her mother is a blade.
Your blood itching to be pulled to the surface.